Tuesday, January 22, 2013

U.S. Congress in 2013: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Our series previewing the U.S. Congress in 2013 continues this week with an overview of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (or "T&I") Committee, and its likely activity this year that will be particularly relevant to Mississippi River Basin water issues. The T&I Committee has jurisdiction over several Federal issues  important from a Mississippi River Basin perspective. They include Federal management of emergencies and natural disasters, flood control, improvement of rivers, harbors and inland waterways (including public works for the benefit of navigation, bridges and dams), and the Coast Guard.

The Committee is newly chaired this year by Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster (R-PA-9), who occupies the chairman's seat held for six years (from 1995 - 2001) by his father, Bud.  Bill Shuster succeeds outgoing Chairman John Mica (R-FL-7), who remains on the Committee but steps down as Chair due to House Republican term limits.  Rep. Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV-3) returns this term as Ranking Member of the Committee.  Early on in 2013, Shuster and Rahall will have to repair Committee relationships damaged during the Committee's consideration of the Federal highway bill in 2012, when the panel's Republican leadership loaded the bill with contentious energy development provisions in an effort to garner conservative GOP votes.  Democrats opposed those provisions, including one to allow the construction of the Keystone XL synthetic crude oil pipeline through the Mississippi River Basin (the plains states and Midwest).

Like its complimentary Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, the House T&I Committee will have as its likely top priority consideration of the Water Resources Development Act ("WRDA"), a national  navigation, flood management and environmental restoration bill that was last reauthorized in 2007.  Historically earmark-laden, WRDA consideration will undoubtedly be at odds with the GOP House leadership's desire to hold earmarks in check, and in particular could put Shuster's Committee leadership abilities to the test, given his fiscally-conservative stature.  Shuster could find common ground with Senate EPW Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who in 2012 drafted a WRDA bill that would have replaced lawmaker-earmarked water projects with broader objectives defining the federal agency project selection process.

Later in 2013, the Committee will almost certainly take up reauthorization of the Federal passenger rail program, which expires on September 30.

Below is the complete Committee member roster listed alphabetically by party, highlighting new Committee members (italicized) and those from Mississippi River Basin districts (underlined) (links to Congressional Internet home pages for the Committee's 21 Mississippi River Basin members are included).

Majority Members
Minority Members
The Committee office is located at Room 2165, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515-6256 
Telephone: (202) 225-9446
Fax: (202) 225-6782

To view previous coverage of the 113th Congress' Senate and House committees, see:

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