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As He Retires, Rep. Bishop Wants To Be Remembered As Someone Who "Would Not Take No For An Answer"

A man with white hair wearing a sweater and a suit jacket stands at a podium.
Keith Mellnick / AFGE
After nine terms in office, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, is retiring.

Outgoing Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, has been in Congress for nine terms. He served as chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and he’s the most senior member of Utah’s congressional delegation.

But he still introduces himself as Rob.

“When I was in the state Legislature, I realized one day that everyone had to call us ‘the honorable,’ and no one could sit in our seats,” Bishop said. “One could really get a big head about the entire thing, and I realized that was the worst thing to possibly happen. I held a cool office, but I wasn't ‘the’ office. I was just a person in that position.”

Utahns might remember Bishop for his support of shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument. He was near President Donald Trump’s side in 2017 when he signed a proclamation to downsize it.

Or they might think of his advocacy for Hill Air Force Base, a major employer in Utah’s 1st Congressional District.

Bishop wants to be remembered, though, as someone who “would not take no for an answer” — even for something as mundane as implementing an electronic voting system as chair of the Natural Resources Committee.

“I was told by the clerk's office I can't do it, and the parliamentarian's office I can't do it. And I just told the staff director, ‘let's try it,’” Bishop said. “We put in clickers, and what was taking five minutes a roll call was now taking 30 seconds. When I left, the Democrats kept the idea because they liked it.”

Bishop is recovering from a recent stroke, and that’s set him back a bit in his plans. But he said he’s writing a book about Congress and “the way it really is” — lessons he wishes he had taught during his time as a high school government teacher.

“I realized when I was back teaching high school and I would read the textbooks and they would talk about Congress, they're all wrong,” he said. “So if nothing else, I think I've learned more. I wish I could go back and reteach those units again now.”

Still, he said he doesn’t really know what comes next for him.

“The first time since I was 25 years old, I don't know what I'm going to do with my life,” Bishop said. “So I may end up just sitting on the porch and yelling at kids as they go by. I would like to teach somewhere. I would like to do some writing. I would like to be of service in some other capacity.”

Bishop will be succeeded by Republican Rep.-elect Blake Moore, who will be sworn in on Jan. 3.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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