House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could face a challenge from Tea Party activists in the upcoming election as the rift between Republicans and the Tea Party movement continues to grow following the government shutdown, according to published reports.
Rep. Shuster, who is expected to focus on the transportation reauthorization next year, has come under fire by the Tea Party as he is on the verge of passing legislation authorizing $8.2 billion for federal water projects. Rep. Shuster thinks that investment in infrastructure such as highways, as well as ports and waterways, are essential for the U.S. to remain competitive.
Rep. Shuster's support for infrastructure investment is attracting the wrath of some Tea Party members for advocating too much federal spending and for supporting the bipartisan deal to end the stalemate over defunding the Affordable Care Act.
Sitting down with Tea Party members to discuss highway funding likely will be challenging for Republicans. Funding options include raising the 18.4 cent-per-gallon gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since the Clinton administration, or adopting a fee that takes in vehicle miles traveled, reducing a tax advantage for drivers of hybrid vehicles and electric cars.
Rep. Shuster's primary opponent, Art Halvorson, criticized the chairman, telling Bloomberg, “I can’t see where he’s found a spending bill he doesn’t like.”
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that it is disingenuous to attack the House T&I Chairman for doing his job and said Rep. Shuster is “committed to business, committed to infrastructure, wants to decrease regulation, speed up project delivery," Bloomberg reported.
Other Republicans in the business community also are firing back against the Tea Party. Former Kansas Republican Gov. Bill Graves, who currently serves as the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, criticized the Tea Party calling it a “corrosive force” that threatens the business community’s ties to the GOP.
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