Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Congress member Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, & Hazardous Materials, predicts President Barack Obama will sign a transportation bill -- with a provision to build the Keystone Pipeline included -- in September or October.
"Americans support the Keystone Pipeline, 80:20" Shuster told a gathering organized by the New York University Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. (A march Gallup poll actually put that support at 57:29, still a big majority.)
The pipeline has been vehemently opposed by environmentalists, who say construction of the pipeline would mean "game over" for the environment. And President Obama has said in the past that he would oppose any transportation bill that included funding for the pipeline.
But Shuster predicted presidential politics would force the President's hand come the fall -- though he acknowledged that for most Americans, transportation wasn't even in their top five issues.
Shuster also pointed the finger at "Leadership and Ways and Means," who he said pushed the idea of removing transit from the transportation bill, an effort that died after "every Republican in an urban or suburban district screamed bloody murder."
Shuster also said he thought Congess would achieve a so-called "grand bargain" avoiding steep across-the-board cuts in spending, either late this year if President Obama is re-elected, or after January if Mitt Romney wins the presidency.
Shuster also took a big swipe at California's high speed rail program, calling it "extortion," and said the only place America should build "high-er speed rail" was in the Northeast Corridor, where, he said, one in five Americans live.