Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: May 2001, 7th full term.

Born: January 10, 1961, McKeesport, PA

Home: Hollidaysburg, PA

Education: Dickinson Col., B.A. 1983; American U., M.B.A. 1987

Professional Career: Mgr., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 1983-87; District mgr., Bandag Inc., 1987-90; Owner & gen. mgr., Shuster Chrysler, 1990-2001.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Lutheran

Family: Separated (Rebecca Harclerode) , 2 children

Republican Bill Shuster won a May 2001 special election to succeed his father, Bud Shuster, the powerful chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 1990s. The younger Shuster took over as head of the panel in 2013 after becoming an important GOP figure on transportation issues in his own right.

Bill Shuster grew up in the Pittsburgh area, where his father started a successful business. After graduating from Dickinson College and American University’s business school, he moved to Blair County, where he took over the family’s car dealership, Shuster Chrysler in East Freedom, near Altoona. He sold the business in 2002.

Bud Shuster announced his resignation in January 2001, unhappy that Republican leaders refused him an exemption from term limits on chairmanships. The contest for the House seat was for all practical purposes decided at a district-wide Republican convention. Facing nine other contenders, Shuster, with back-room help from his father, ran an insider campaign that took advantage of his father’s name and years of service. Although there was some local grumbling about a Shuster dynasty, opponents failed to coalesce behind a candidate.Shuster won 69 of the 133 votes, two more than the required majority.

National Democrats ignored the race in the heavily Republican district. But Democrat H. Scott Conklin campaigned vigorously as an opponent of abortion rights and gun control. Shuster won by a closer than expected 52%-44%, and national Republicans attributed the narrow margin to residual intra-party ill will over Shuster’s nomination.

In the House, Bill Shuster has a solidly conservative voting record, though his predilection toward grabbing federal funding for his area has led him to oppose conservatives’ amendments to cancel or cut federal programs. Taking the helm of Transportation and Infrastructure, he vowed to cut through the polarization that marked the tenure of the previous chairman, Florida’s John Mica. Shuster told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he would even consider abandoning the Republican no-new-taxes pledge to fund transportation projects. Though he initially said he was open to a vehicle-miles-traveled fee, he abandoned that idea along with raising the federal gasoline tax in late 2014, citing public and political opposition.

Shuster is considered to be more approachable and pragmatic than his father, who ran the committee with an iron fist. “He’s a lot more personable than his father,” Roger Beckner, a former chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, told The Washington Post in 2014. Part of that is by necessity: Unlike his father, he can no longer use earmarks on transportation reauthorization bills to help smooth deal-making. He also has far less money to work with: Bud Shuster’s last reauthorization bill in 1998 spanned six years and cost $218 billion. The version for 2013 and 2014 totaled just $105 billion. Former Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who chaired the panel from 2007 to 2011, told The Morning Call of Allentown that Shuster “has all the right instincts, all the right views of the policy direction. …But his ability to move on his instincts and judgments will be entirely limited by the House Republican leadership.”

In the 113th Congress (2013-14), Shuster was unable to get a full-fledged multi-year transportation reauthorization bill through the House. Lawmakers in July 2014 passed a version that extended only through May 2015. Conservative groups opposed it for using what they called "budget gimmicks," and even supporters said it was little more than a Band-Aid. But Shuster hit it off with President Obama's transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, raising hopes that they could get a longer-term bill into law in the 114th Congress (2015-16). The two even held a joint "Twitter Town Hall" discussion in February 2015 to try to drum up support. “The timing is right for me and Secretary Foxx,” Shuster said.

Shuster did have better success in getting a bipartisan $12.3 billion water projects bill into law in 2014. In rolling out that measure a year earlier, Shuster again took to social media, putting up a slickly produced video on YouTube in which he explained how the measure would create jobs as cartoons showed a port rapidly drying up. In a nod to his caucus' fiscally oriented conservatives, the bill called for deauthorizing money that had been inactive past years but remained on the books.

Shuster previously had chaired the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. He is in favor of high-speed rail, but only in the busy Northeast corridor, and thinks it should be privatized—an idea many Democrats consider unworkable. He also takes a dim view of funding bike and pedestrian projects that many urban Democrats champion as essential. “When you start getting into the inner city, the federal government has less of a role to play,” he said at a January 2012 transportation conference. He sponsored a measure that became law that year cracking down on unauthorized intercity bus operators, a priority of authorized bus companies and their unions. He also added an amendment to an aviation bill in March 2011 requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to give more weight to economic factors before adopting safety rules. Safety groups sharply criticized the proposal, but it narrowly passed.

His loyalty to the House GOP agenda earned Shuster a spot on its whip team and Republican leaders occasionally have called on him for behind-the-scenes jobs, such as reportedly leading an unsuccessful effort to persuade Pennsylvania Democrat Christopher Carney to switch parties in 2009. He also served as the middleman on state redistricting efforts between GOP lawmakers in Harrisburg and on Capitol Hill. Shuster does occasionally reach across the aisle, joining with Vermont Democrat Peter Welch in 2011 in an effort to expedite limits on credit card swipe fees.

In his father’s tradition, Shuster has been an avid practitioner of earmarked spending for his district, a practice that in recent years has been attacked by budget conservatives as wasteful. But he subsequently went along with House Republicans’ push to ban the practice. Democrats lampooned him in March 2009 for taking credit for $9 million sent to his district from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, even though he had voted against the legislation. He was less amenable to funding for Berkeley, Calif. He tried unsuccessfully to cut $2 million for the city from an appropriations bill in 2008 after the city told Marine recruiters they were unwelcome to set up shop there; Shuster called Berkeley “ground zero for radicals and leftist zealots.”

Shuster had an unusually strong challenge in the 2004 primary from Michael DelGrosso, a management consultant whose family owns a Blair County tomato sauce company. He said that the district needed a new economic approach. DelGrosso carried Blair County and three nearby counties in the northern part of the district, but Shuster ran strongly elsewhere and squeezed by with a 51%-49% win. He was not seriously challenged in subsequent elections, and in 2011 was willing to give up large chunks of his district’s Republican turf to protect less-secure Pennsylvania colleagues.

Shuster did draw another aggressive primary challenge in 2014 from Art Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard official with tea party ties. He attacked the congressman as being too loyal a lieutenant of Speaker John Boehner and said the district needed to representated by someone not named Shuster for a change. But Shuster spent more than $700,000 on TV ads and won the primary easily.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2431

(202) 225-2486

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2268
Washington, DC 20515-3809

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2431

(202) 225-2486

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2268
Washington, DC 20515-3809

DISTRICT OFFICE

(814) 696-6318

(814) 696-6726

310 Penn Street Suite 200
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648-2004

DISTRICT OFFICE

(814) 696-6318

(814) 696-6726

310 Penn Street Suite 200
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648-2004

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 264-8308

(717) 264-0269

100 Lincoln Way East Suite B
Chambersburg, PA 17201-2274

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 264-8308

(717) 264-0269

100 Lincoln Way East Suite B
Chambersburg, PA 17201-2274

DISTRICT OFFICE

(724) 463-0516

(724) 463-0518

827 Water Street Room 3
Indiana, PA 15701-3923

DISTRICT OFFICE

(724) 463-0516

(724) 463-0518

827 Water Street Room 3
Indiana, PA 15701-3923

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(814) 201-2616

309 East Plank Road
Altoona, PA 16602

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

309 East Plank Road
Altoona, PA 16602

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Agriculture

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Animal Rights

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Anthony DeThomas
Legislative Correspondent

Appropriations

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Arts

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Banking

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Budget

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Campaign

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Commerce

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Congress

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Crime

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Education

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Energy

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Environment

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Family

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Finance

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Foreign

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Gun Issues

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Health

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Homeland Security

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Housing

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Human Rights

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Immigration

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Intelligence

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Judiciary

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Labor

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Medicare

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Military

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Native Americans

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Anthony DeThomas
Legislative Correspondent

Science

Anthony DeThomas
Legislative Correspondent

Seniors

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Tax

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Technology

Anthony DeThomas
Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Trade

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Transportation

Dennis Wirtz
Legislative Director

Veterans

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Welfare

Christopher Buki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Contres
Press Secretary

Women

Dan Dunham
Legislative Assistant

dan.dunham@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2431

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Bill Shuster
Votes: 169,177
Percent: 61.67%
Karen Ramsburg
Votes: 105,128
Percent: 38.33%
2012 PRIMARY
Bill Shuster
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Bill Shuster
Votes: 141,904
Percent: 73.06%
Tom Conners
Votes: 52,322
Percent: 26.94%
2010 PRIMARY
Bill Shuster
Votes: 56,828
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Bill Shuster
Votes: 174,951
Percent: 63.92%
Tony Barr
Votes: 98,735
Percent: 36.08%
2008 PRIMARY
Bill Shuster
Votes: 57,890
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (73%), 2008 (64%), 2006 (60%), 2004 (69%), 2002 (71%), 2001 special (52%)

* Export counts will reset after 30 days. Please contact your Dedicated Advisor if you have reached your limit.

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×