New Congress, New Leaders
While Congress still has many issues to address before the end of the year, lawmakers are already planning for the next legislative session by choosing committee leaders.
Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), a long-time friend of the aviation maintenance industry, will be turning the gavel over to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). Shuster, recently elected to his seventh term, is a familiar face to the transportation industry, although his efforts have primarily focused on surface transportation, railroad, and pipeline policy issues. Shuster has indicated that he plans to focus on water infrastructure, passenger rail, surface transportation reauthorization, and NextGen implementation early in his tenure as chair.
It is likely that Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) will be replaced as chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, although his successor is still unclear.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) will continue as the committee’s lead Democrat. However, with the retirement of Rep. Jerry Costello, (D-Ill.), Democrats will need to fill their top spot on the Aviation Subcommittee.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has been tapped to lead the House Homeland Security Committee. It is unclear whether Rep. Mike Rodgers (R-Ala.) will continue to chair the Transportation Security Subcommittee, where he has led efforts to push TSA to issue the repair station security rules. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will once again serve as ranking member of the homeland security panel.
On the other side of the Hill, Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) is expected to remain the panel’s chair. However, the retirement of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will pave the way for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to serve as the committee’s ranking member. DeMint, an outspoken member of the Tea Party Caucus, will likely focus on cutting spending at agencies under the panel’s jurisdiction.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), current Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee chairman, will likely continue in that position. There could be a shake-up among Republicans, as the subcommittee’s ranking member, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D), might seek to become the senior GOP leader on another subcommittee in 2013.
The Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee will change leadership on both sides of the aisle. It looks as though Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) will chair the committee with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) expected to serve as the ranking member.
ARSA looks forward to working with new committee leaders on behalf of the aviation maintenance industry during the next Congress.