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Shuster talks about Trump, infrastructure, mitigating disasters

September 21, 2018

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said he supports the job President Donald Trump has done since taking office.

“I think the president provides a good leadership style,” Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, said in an interview with the Daily American. “It’s been called unorthodox by me, something else by others. But he gets out there and shakes it up.”

Shuster said that by blowing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump was able to get Mexican officials to the table. He is also talking trade with Canadian officials.

“They can’t afford to not do business with the United States,” he said.

Last week the House unanimously approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2018, which is designed to improve America’s harbors, ports, waterways, flood protection and other water infrastructure. Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, was the sponsor.

“The Senate did not pass a water resources bill,” he said. “We passed one and we had to negotiate with the Senate. My staff did a tremendous job. Now we hold our breath until the Senate passes it. You never know about the Senate.”

The bill will help move goods throughout the country and abroad, protects communities and builds upon previous reforms to move projects forward more efficiently and at lower cost, according to supporters. The bill also addresses stormwater, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and hydropower development.

“It invests in the ports, locks and dams, inland waterways, flood protection, and other infrastructure that makes America more competitive and protects our communities, while building upon reforms to the Army Corps of Engineers to continue improving project delivery,” he said in a press release.

Shuster said the House passed the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization in June, but the Senate was unable to pass the bill.

“We are getting very close to finishing it up next week and have it on the House floor the last week in September before we recess,” he said.

He explained that within the FAA reauthorization bill is the Disaster Recovery Reform Act.

“FEMA spends after a hurricane billions and billions in mitigation,” he said. “We are trying to get a percentage, 6 percent, to spend before a disaster. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Millions spent building seawalls may save the federal government billions in relief, he said.

“It would be a game changer if we get it done in terms of spending dollars in disaster recovery,” he said.

He said it is estimated that every dollar spent on prevention saves $4 to $8 in relief.

“Last year Houston suffered two major floods that cost $80 to $100 billion,” he said. “Those (repaired) levies wouldn’t have stopped everything, but it is better to spend $300 million to save $3 billion.”

Shuster said that as he finishes his last few months in office, he is proud to represent the 9th District and Somerset County. He is retiring at the end of his current term.

“It’s been one of the great honors of my life,” he said. “I think I’ve done well and it is time for me to move on. I am very very thankful to the people of Somerset County and the entire district for giving me that honor and their trust.”

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