SALT LAKE CITY - Republican Congressman Chris Stewart said he believes the way to solve most issues is to leave them to the state, and not the federal government.
In a morning appearance Tuesday to the Legislature, Stewart says he believes in federalism and the principles outlined in the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"I believe we have enormous challenges and problems ahead of us. Most of believe those are best addressed by the state," Stewart said. "If in any way we can remove power from my job to your job, that is a good thing," the first-term congressman said.
Stewart said there have been three meaningful events in the past year, which he hopes are a harbinger of better things to come. He said the government shutdown and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act led to the third event, which was passage last year of a budget that raised the national debt ceiling.
While he praised the importance of having a budget in place, Stewart said Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling, without getting anything in return.
"We gave up something for nothing. Many of us want to use that as a tool," Stewart said.
Asked about the future of the ACA, Stewart said it is a work in progress and flawed. He said House Republicans have offered alternatives, though he said they haven't gotten much publicity.
"It isn't enough to say the Affordable Care Act has been a failure and will hurt. We have to have something else. There are alternatives," he said.
Stewart also addressed immigration briefly. He told members of the House he supports reform, but doesn't think it will happen this session because of a distrust between the legislative and executive branch.
He also defended his no vote on the violence of women act, saying the issue is best addressed at the state level.
During his appearance in the Senate, Stewart took a poke at several environmental issues. He joked about global warming and said colder temperatures in the nation's capitol have left him wondering if he was going to freeze to death.
Asked to address air quality along the Wasatch Front from his potential political opponent, Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, Stewart said some issues are beyond the ability of anyone to fix.
"The reality is you have an enormous challenge before you. If you want to fix air quality in the Salt Lake Valley, tear down these mountains, convince the jet stream to go elsewhere. Does it mean I think we should throw our hands up and say there is nothing we can do, of course not. Once again I feel it is best addressed at the state, not the federal level," Stewart said.