Utah Rep. Blake Moore On His Unusual Start To His First Term And How He Views His Role As A Freshman In Congress
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Rep. Blake Moore, R-UT, is one of Utah’s two rookie members of Congress.
KUER’s Emily Means sat down with Moore to talk about his first few months in office and what he hopes to accomplish during the rest of his term.
Emily Means: Your first term started with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The day after, you tweeted that the violence was "deeply upsetting" and "un-American." How do you think that event has shaped your time in office?
Blake Moore: I look back to that experience and the things that stick out to me over the last four months was the way that our team gelled. That's led to a lot of productive work since then. The benefits of going through really tough decisions early on created some relationships that I have with other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, that I think will benefit me going forward.
And it taught me the value of maintaining my objectivity. This can be an emotional job. These decisions can be very emotional. It taught me the value of having a simple framework to use on making decisions.
EM: One of your priorities during your campaign was to get on the Armed Services Committee because Hill Air Force Base is in your district. Plus, your predecessor, Rob Bishop, also served there. You did get assigned to that committee. What is one of your specific legislative goals while you're there?
BM: One key objective is to follow up with that importance of Hill Air Force Base. We've been able to prioritize certain initiatives that we want to see in the National Defense Authorization Act. That's something that I, as a freshman member on a committee, can directly become involved in. I can be effective and productive in my committees.
Also, we got on [the Natural Resources Committee], and we have seen actually quite a bit of success on getting some legislation through. We're really excited about a particular piece that we just introduced. It's called the Forest Tech Improvement Act. And it's going to put a study together to identify ways that we can leverage technology to increase our reforestation efforts, using drones even, to plant seeds.
We're in Utah. We love our landscapes. We love our forests. We love our national parks. And we want to make sure that we have these to benefit from for years to come.
EM: You met with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland during her visit to Utah. You and other state leaders have said they want a legislative solution to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Do you have any idea what a legislative solution could look like?
BM: Let me communicate something that I heard from Rep. John Curtis, R-UT. When Secretary Haaland asked him that question, he looked at her and he said, ‘This isn't for us to be able to put forward. We need to make sure that we meet with the tribal leaders to make sure their input is incorporated from the very start.’
You know, the idea for this was to protect the antiquities. That's the key piece, making sure that those tribal areas, that respect is given, finding ways to make sure to protect and secure those antiquities. Those would be the key pieces of any legislation going forward.
EM: Why do you think Congress can work something out now? The monuments have been an ongoing issue for years.
BM: This has been one of my key frustrations, this entire time since being [in] Congress. The 117th Congress is fundamentally different than the 116th, and even prior to. There's a tiny margin between the majority and minority, three or four votes different. We should be embracing that and we're not.
So, I'm hopeful. I'm going to remain idealistic on this until proven otherwise. But I do think that with narrow margins, Congress does have the opportunity to work together if leadership from both sides would be willing to.
EM: You've been traveling around your district meeting with constituents and businesses. What is their biggest priority for you?
BM: Infrastructure is the topic right now. We wanted to get out to every county in the district, but they just have particular areas and initiatives that they're trying to work on. Most of it's done at the state and local level, and they're wanting us to be involved and where we can with infrastructure legislation, we just want to be able to represent them and understand where their biggest needs are, what ultimate impact it will have, and identify the areas that we can improve.
So [meeting with the constituents has] been the best part of the job. [It’s] easy for me to say that. Getting a chance to just go in and hear where you can be helpful is pretty great.
EM: What do you hope to see or accomplish over the rest of your term?
BM: We have created a productive lane. It has not been easy, and we have been able to find a good, strong process for potential legislation, even in a tough environment. And we would look back and say we saw some of that through, whether it be some of the defense work that we're doing, or our natural resources work that we're doing, and that I can continue to communicate conservative principles in a way that has strong appeal to people, and they know that I'm authentic.
I hope to be in the majority in 2022. I think we have ideas that can solve a lot of the issues that our country is facing, and I want to be able to affect that. There's a lot of things I can't do right now, but if I can develop good, strong relationships on both sides of the aisle with my leadership, with bipartisan nature, then I think if I were to be positioned in the majority that I could go and build on that and and actually be part of the problem solving that I wanted to do coming into this.