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John Mica Sidelined by House Leadership for Transpo Bill Rewrite

CQ and AmericaBikes are reporting that Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) has received a rebuke from House leadership, and will play a lesser role as the House reworks its foundering transportation bill. Mica will retain his chairmanship, but he will take a back seat to Railroad Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).

According to CQ's Richard Cohen and Nathan Hurst (link forthcoming):

The Speaker's move shows uncharacteristic willingness by [Speaker John] Boehner to publicly rebuke a chairman and turn to other leaders on a panel when that chairman does not draft a bill that can gain the support of a majority of Republicans.

Even before becoming Speaker, Boehner warned he would have little patience for committee chairmen who do not do their homework. "Chairmen shouldn't be content to churn out flawed bills and then rely on their leadership to bail them out," he said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in fall 2010.

Shuster's go-between role is unusual in part because he ranks 10th in the party seniority on the panel. But GOP leaders needed someone to help tap the panel's technical expertise, and Shuster has unusual cachet for a junior lawmaker because his father, Bud Shuster, R-Pa., reigned as the panel's powerful chairman from 1995 to 2000.

Shuster talks a hard line in favor of giving states a blank check to dictate transportation policy, and told an audience at this year's TRB annual meeting that "when you start getting into the inner city, the federal government has less of a role to play. It’s up to the local community and state to decide [their transportation priorities]." Presumably it was this philosophy that guided the house's evisceration of transit, bicycle, and pedestrian funding the first time around.

The House Republicans are meeting privately today and tomorrow to formulate a strategy for their transportation bill, according to CQ. Stay tuned for more on Mica and Shuster as it becomes available.

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