Inside Sources: Bishop calls it quits

Jul 29, 2019, 5:48 PM | Updated: Apr 13, 2020, 2:30 pm
Rep. Rob Bishop listens to testimony as he meets in a field hearing at Union High School in Rooseve...
Rep. Rob Bishop listens to testimony as he meets in a field hearing at Union High School in Roosevelt on Aug. 29, 2018.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, told Boyd Matheson on “Inside Sources” on Monday that he won’t seek re-election in 2020, honoring a commitment he made seven years ago.

Bishop said when he was first elected as congressman in 2003 from Utah’s 1st congressional district, he realized Washington, D.C., could benefit from some of Utah’s legislative procedures. He would know. Bishop was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 1978 to 1994. He was House Majority Leader and later served as Speaker of the House from 1992 until 1994.

“If you have bad procedures, you’re going to have bad policies,” Bishop said.

He said in 2010, then-House Speaker John Boehner and the then-Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., wanted to do things differently.  They incorporated some of what Bishop called the Utah Plan and made significant changes.

Bishop served as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee starting in 2014, but could only serve as chairman for six years under Republican rules. He said he realized then that that would be his optimum time to be a benefit for the state of Utah. Now, he says, that time has come.

“I still have energy. I still think I can be creative,” Bishop said. “Now is the right time. If I wait until I’m physically or mentally exhausted, I’ll have been here [ in Congress] far, far too long.”

D.C. mindset

“We’ve been conditioned for so long that if it’s a big problem, a serious problem, we have to look to Washington to solve the problem,” Bishop said.

He says that mindset leads to all kinds of problems.

“It crosses parties and philosophy. When you go back to Washington and see a problem, you think instinctively,” Bishop said, “I’ve got to solve that problem. That’s going to be my legacy.”

He said the members of Congress need to ask not if the problem can be solved by them, but rather if they should solve it. Some things should never be solved by Washington, he said.

“There is so much we do in Washington that’s the wrong thing to do,” Bishop said. “I think the reason we have a spending problem in Washington is not necessarily that we are spending too much on issues. We are spending too much on too many issues.

“That is one of the reasons we have states. States matter. States can be more efficient, more effective, and they can provide justice,” Bishop said. “The one thing we can’t do in Washington with the one-size-fits-all program is see where someone falls between the cracks. Helping someone with individual needs is something that can only be done on the local level.”

“You can’t see who has fallen through the cracks from 3,000 miles away,” Bishop said.

Bishop said that if you don’t like the decision someone has made at a local level, you as an individual can talk to that person. You can’t do that at a federal level, he said.

“If you don’t like a decision by the Interior Department, what are you going to do?” he asked. “Fly back to Washington and throw rocks at their window?”

What’s next

Matheson asked Bishop if he plans to run for governor of Utah.

“I have to have a purpose for why I want to do that kind of service,” he said. “I have to have in my own mind a conviction that there is something that I can actually bring and do a service that I need to do. And that’s what I went through with Congress.

“My ultimate benefit for the state of Utah can be as chairman of the Resources Committee. When I’m done with that I should be done. I should leave voluntarily.

“I don’t have to have a job to feel fulfilled. When I make a decision for governor … is there a role that I think I need to do, only I can do it and that I can see visually where I want to help the state of Utah? If I can’t come to my own conclusion that that’s important, then I won’t run,” Bishop said.

Matheson asked Bishop what Utah voters should be looking for in a leader locally and nationally.

Voters should be looking at a candidate’s approach to problems, Bishop said: how they visualize the role of government. The issues will always change, he said. But their approach to a problem or how they figure out an issue will be the constant.

Unfinished business

Bishop said there is a $30 billion maintenance backlog for U.S. public lands. He said he has 300 co-sponsors for a bill to address the backlog, which would be funded by excess royalties.

“If they don’t exist, you don’t fund it,” he said.

The first billion and a half dollars would go into making sure our parks are adequate, he said.

“So you have a good experience when you go to a park,” he said.

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Inside Sources: Bishop calls it quits