As part of our ongoing series of congressional candidate profiles, KUER's Judy Fahys spoke with Bishop about his re-election bid, President Trump and the idea of a Space Force.
Utah’s First District Congressman Rob Bishop is seeking a ninth and final term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bishop used to lead the state Republican Party and served as Speaker of the Utah House. He says Congress would be more effective if it adopted Utah’s approach to governing. Bishop faces three challengers in the November election, Democrat Lee Castillo, United Utah Party Candidate Eric Eliason and the Green Party’s Adam Davis. Bishop says he’s not focused on those opponents as much as he is determined to make his reelection case to 1st District voters.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Judy Fahys: And so why should they send you back to this next term?
Rep. Rob Bishop: In the House, it truly is the committees that run things. I am on the two committees that are essential to northern Utah. Having me in those positions is extremely significant in getting things done. So, I am the only Utahn in a position right now to be a defender of Hill Air Force Base and the civilian work employees that are part of our national defense system. And that's the reason I wanted one more term as well so I can finish the chairmanship of the Resource Committee as well as being one of the leaders, one of the senior guys, who will be on the Armed Services Committee. That becomes extremely significant for the state of Utah.
F: Because you're talking about the Armed Services Committee, we have a new proposal by the Trump administration for a Space Force, and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.
B: I felt uncomfortable that the rollout made it look like this is something that's new and hasn't been discussed, and it's just something that's popped up on the radar. The military has been talking about this for years, and I have been going to classified briefings about how space will be integrated into our military structure for many years. Personally, I still think that the Air Force would be the best vehicle to deal with that, but I'm open to listening to what the discussions are. And I also want to make sure that the Defense Department has had the ability to do their study and come up with their recommendations and so we can be supportive of those recommendations.
F: What kind of role would you have in something like that?
B: We had a lot of people that are qualified to know what they're doing that it could be a significant player. Hill Air Force Base could play a significant role in that. Nothing is guaranteed but obviously, Utah would have a leg up because of the work that Utah has done not only on the military side but also in the aerospace industry.
F: Does President Donald Trump help or hurt Utah Republicans in their efforts to get reelected, or to get elected in this midterm election?
B: My basic assumption is he probably helps. If one looks at the policies that the Trump administration has been implementing, they really do align with what most Utahns like and support. Personality and approach may have some rough edges that grate on people. But if you look at actually what he is doing as far as — his executive orders have been to limit the power of executive orders and put responsibility back where it belongs with the legislature, which is responsible directly to the people.
There are some areas in which what the president is doing on trade policy is an effort specifically to try and shake things up so people start working together. To say there is a trade war is a misstatement. It's not going on yet. May or may not happen.
F: Obviously, a big issue here has been Bears Ears and Grand Staircase. Those issues are in the courts now. Roll it out for me, what happens next?
B: In the end that is one of the issues which we're dealing with that is as important to me as dealing with the backlog issue with our national parks, with firefighting and the fire funding process that we're going through and how we maintain our public lands. I would ask people to look at the bill that Representative [John] Curtis (R-Utah) has on Bears Ears and the one that Representative [Chris] Stewart (R-Utah) has on Grand Staircase Escalante. Those two bills show how it should be organized and should do it in an intelligent, logical way.
F: If I remember correctly a couple of years ago you said you wanted to serve as chairman of the Resources Committee and then move on. Is that still your game plan?
B: On natural resources, I'm obviously chairman. And when I am term-limited — and I will be term limited in another two years as chairman of that committee — so, I just thought to myself that would be the ideal time to allow someone else to start to rebuild the seniority. So, it is unusual to announce that far in advance, and then I'll hopefully have some kind of say on the kinds of people who may replace me. I want somebody who has experience in government to take my spot either a state legislative level or local government level. It makes a difference.
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