U.S. Rep. Bishop to step down after next term, presuming he wins in 2018

Saturday , August 26, 2017 - 3:20 PM2 comments

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop will call it quits after his next legislative term, presuming he wins re-election in 2018.

“When that is done, I am done,” he said Friday at a town hall meeting in Layton, addressing term limits.

Bishop, a Republican from Brigham City now in his eighth term as a member of Congress, told the gathered crowd that his proposed exit from the House would be timed with the end of his tenure as chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. GOPers may serve three two-year terms as chairman of a committee, according to the Washington Post, and Bishop, now in his second term as chair of natural resources, would reach his third period as leader of the committee in his next House term.

RELATED: U.S. Rep. Bishop to hold town hall meetings, hopes for 'elevated' dialogue

He joked that he might be willing to serve longer if his fellow House members pleaded with him to serve as speaker of the House, but he doesn’t foresee that. “One more term, that’s it,” he said.

Of course he must win in 2018 to serve one more term, and thus far two other candidates say they plan to run for the seat — Republican Cathy Callow-Heusser and Adam Davis of the Green Party. Even so, Bishop, a member of the Utah House and former high school teacher, has won by wide margins in his previous electoral bids.

He didn’t say what would come next after his House service. Bishop first took office in 2003.

Otherwise, speaking at the second of two town hall meetings this week, Bishop touched on a range of questions put to him by audience members — on immigration, President Donald Trump, white supremacy, Bears Ears National Monument and more. He spoke at Layton Christian Academy, one day after addressing a crowd at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, and around 200 or so were on hand at each gathering.

RELATED: U.S. Rep. Bishop says Obamacare reform efforts will persist 'until it's solved'

Many in Layton and Brigham City were critical, making their displeasure with Bishop’s stances known at several points by jeering or waving red signs reading “disagree.” He addressed some audience members’ shouted comments at times, powering through his comments amid critics’ outbursts on other occasions.

Here are some of Bishop’s comments from Layton:

Public lands: He has pushed hard for some public lands in federal hands to be turned over to state control, generating criticism from some, but that doesn’t mean he intends on selling such land to the private sector. A claim to the otherwise is “a falsehood. It’s not happening,” he said.

He also rebuffed the notion that his opposition to Bears Ears National Monument’s federal status stems from a desire to exploit oil or coal at the location. There are no viable deposits of such substances at the location, though the land there might make a suitable cattle grazing area, and the idea that he hopes to open the area to energy exploitation is a “silly concept.”

Immigration: Before broader immigration reform is possible, the U.S.-Mexico border needs to be secured, he said, asked his reaction to Trump’s call for a border wall. “There is so much anger and anxiety on the issue of immigration,” he said.

He didn’t outright dismiss the notion of building a barrier on the border, but said more of a focus should be put on augmenting the authority of border agents to patrol the zone and seek out immigrants crossing illegally.

“The issue is not the wall, the issue is border security,” he said. “The border patrol has to be able to do its job.”

Once the public is comfortable the border is secure, it would be much easier for lawmakers to address other immigration reform initiatives.

Charlottesville: “White supremacy to me is abhorrent. It is bigotry and it is wrong,” Bishop said. “What happened in Charlottesville is wrong.”

Some in the audience pressed him. “Why don’t you say it to Trump?” shouted one woman.

Trump: He’s received numerous letters calling for Trump’s impeachment, but wouldn’t back that move, just as he didn’t back such action when President Barack Obama was in office.

Impeachment would require two-thirds backing in the Senate, a tough bar, and like it or not, Trump and Obama were elected into office by the public, which deserves consideration, he said.

Questioned about his support of Trump, he said he’ll back the president if he agrees with his position. But if Trump takes action Bishop opposes, he said, citing the theoretical possibility of an overreaching executive order, he’ll voice his displeasure.

Health care: Obamacare, a recent target of GOP repeal efforts, "is on a road to failure unless it is fixed,” Bishop said. “It is financially not sustainable and there has to be some kind of change.”

He backed a U.S. House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as is is more formally known, before efforts fizzled in the U.S. Senate. He says continued efforts to repeal and replace the measure are in U.S. Senate hands.

“What I want the Senate to do is just pass something so that you can then go to a conference committee and work out the details of a new bill that will fix the problems,” Bishop said.

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