US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) will not seek re-election in 2018, explaining the move will allow him to focus his full attention on passing major, bipartisan infrastructure legislation through Congress.

Shuster, who has been in Congress since 2001, is starting his final year as committee chairman. Even if he had sought and won re-election, his term running the powerful House transportation panel would have concluded at year’s end. Shuster is best known in the commercial aviation industry for his steadfast push to separate US air traffic control (ATC) from FAA, but his efforts each of the last two years to enact the reform met resistance in Congress, including from members of his own party.

It is unclear how Shuster’s announcement will affect the ATC reform debate; FAA’s reauthorization is needed by March 31 and Shuster may make one last push for his ATC plan.

In announcing his retirement from Congress, however, Shuster cited a major infrastructure bill he indicated will be pushed by US President Donald Trump. He did not mention ATC reform.

Shuster told the Washington Examiner, which first reported the news of his retirement, that he met with Trump in December in the Oval Office and believes the president is ready to back an infrastructure bill. Trump has repeatedly said US transportation infrastructure, including airports, is in need of a significant overhaul.

Trump is “very excited” about infrastructure legislation, Shuster told the Examiner, adding, “He seems to be ready to go, as we are, and so I think we’re going to have a good working relationship as we move forward … It’s an exciting time to be the chairman of the committee, so I didn’t want to take my eye off the ball at all.”

In a statement confirming his retirement from Congress at the end of the year, Shuster said he will “spend my last year as chairman focusing 100% on working with President Trump and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in both chambers to pass a much-needed infrastructure bill to rebuild America.”

Shuster appears to believe removing himself from electoral politics better positions him to lead on the infrastructure issue. It is likely he will also be heavily involved in FAA reauthorization, which has been a signature issue for the congressman.

Aaron Karp aaron.karp@informa.com