MORGAN — U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop thinks border security should be the first step in immigration reform.

More specifically, U.S. Border Patrol agents should have more leeway to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Donald Trump can be “blunt and very brusque,” Bishop said, but his approach, at least at times, can be effective.

The ability to filibuster in the U.S. Senate, Bishop thinks, should be eliminated.

The eight-term Republican from Brigham City touched on those topics and more during town hall meetings Thursday in Morgan and South Weber, part of a series of public meetings this week in the 1st District. He shied from talk of his campaign for re-election, preferring to keep the focus on policy and the issues facing the U.S. Congress. But he took questions on a broad range of subjects, receiving praise for his work and facing pointed comments from some on hand.

“There should be no assault weapons on the street,” Norene Francis of South Ogden told the lawmaker at the Morgan event.

“And I disagree,” Bishop answered, saying an earlier assault weapons ban, since lifted, yielded no results.

Bishop, seeking what he says would be his last term in the U.S. House in elections this year, held town hall meetings earlier this week in Vernal and North Logan and finished off the tour with the stops in Morgan, which drew around 40 people, and South Weber, which drew around 150. He’s being challenged in his re-election bid by Democrat Lee Castillo, Eric Eliason of the United Utah Party and Adam Davis of the Green Party, who attended the South Weber event, sitting quietly and listening while Bishop spoke.

The filibuster — and Bishop’s frustration with it — was a repeated theme at the Morgan meeting. The House did away with the filibuster in the late 1800s, he said, and he thinks the Senate should eliminate use of the legislative maneuver because it is hindering the ability to pass legislation.

“A minority can stop everything and they do. That is part of my frustration,” said Bishop. “The ability of the Senate to filibuster, preventing considered debate of certain initiatives, is one of the “biggest impediments to progress right now.”

He faced queries about immigration reform at both meetings Thursday — about younger undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” Central American immigrants and more — but put the focus of his answer on border security. That, he thinks, is the starting point for a broader fix.

Because of federal controls on much of the land in the border area, Border Patrol agents’ ability for east-west movement in the sector in apprehending undocumented immigrants is limited. Relax that, and they’ll be better able to apprehend illegal border crossers, according to Bishop.

He’s not opposed to Trump’s proposal to add to the wall along the border, but building the physical barrier “is not the panacea.”

His response in Morgan — at least the notion of immigrants being illegal — drew fire from at least one man in attendance. “Unless you are Native American, we are all illegal,” said George Muller of Eden.

TRUMP, TRADE, EPA

Bishop offered pointed thoughts on Trump’s Twitter habit. “I hate tweeting. I wish he would not do it,” Bishop said.

But the president’s sometimes controversial manner, he thinks, can be effective, at least in some instances. “There are some things he does which are very blunt and very brusque and sometimes it produces results. Sometimes I worry about it and I cringe,” Bishop said.

Broadly, he said he agrees with most of Trump’s policy decisions, without singling out anything specific, and expressed alignment with the president’s view that China is engaging in unfair trade practices with the United States. Beyond that, he hedged, at least on trade issues.

“I don’t want to jump to conclusions right now,” he said, alluding to the series of tariffs recently implemented on foreign trade partners by the president. Some of Trump’s trade decisions and criticisms are “spot on,” others not so much.

Whatever the case, he thinks Congress should have control of trade matters, lamenting prior change that gave the power to the president. “Congress is the one who should pass tariffs, not the president, and certainly not through presidential decree,” he said.

In South Weber, as in Morgan, Bishop faced a query about reforming gun laws, in the context of the deadly shootings that periodically occur at schools. Some in the crowd clapped, but as in Morgan, Bishop rebuffed the notion that gun bans are the answer.

“We’ve tried it in the past it’s not going to work. It’s not going to work in the future,” he said.

On the environment, he praised the work of Utah regulators, saying they — not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — have been and will be key in improving air quality here.

Utah regulators have done “a monumental job,” he said, saying air quality today is better than when he was growing up. “Keep working with the state. They’re doing a damn good job and they’ll keep doing that job... That is really where the solution lies.”

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

(2) comments

GoAggies

What good is Rob Bishop’s career in politics if he can’t figure out how to write a wildfire bill bipartisan enough to pass the senate? Let’s vote him out. Eric Eliason has my vote!

ceverman

So basically the only thing he said was he agrees with the President, and then obfuscated.

He demonstrated his lack of understanding of both the purpose of the filibuster (to provide the minority a voice) and the fact that the Senate has effectively eliminated it under the current rules.

He repeated standard talking point about the immigration problem. Illegal border crossings are at historic lows (lowest in 45 years according to CBP data) and averaging between 20-40K /month compared to 220K/month in 2000, so a 90% decline and about the levels they have been since 2010.

The Congressman's answers demonstrated he has zero understanding of trade, and based on his statement, the same level for understanding of economics. The Trans Pacific Partnership, e.g., was a trade agreement designed to address the issues between and among countries such as China, Indonesia, etc and the West. Pulling out of the TPP, like pulling out of NAFTA, does not hurt the other countries involved. They can just as easily trade with each other. Once those markets are lost, only the US will manufacturers and farmers will be harmed. Those countries will not. We no longer produce anything that cannot be obtained through another source. So when nearly a half million jobs disappear due to steel and aluminum tariffs making manufacturers and their suppliers and down stream support businesses uncompetitive, those high wage jobs will turn into low wage jobs as the market is flooded with the unemployed. Just what the Congressman and his lobbyist donors want. Cheap labor. The same for farmers. Do these guys really think that there aren't other countries that can grow soy beans? Really. You know who benefits from these trade wars? Russia. They will be more than happy to supply China all the soy they need. And Mexico will be more than happy to supply automobiles to the EU without those tariffs. American multinational companies will do fine, but US citizens will end up living like third world citizens. We haven't been a supplier country since Reagan, and thanks to the Republicans that ship sailed and we will never be one again.

In the last nearly 3 decades that Congressman Bishop's Party has controlled the House of Representatives the only investment they have made is in BS. Based on this article I'd say he was sharing the bounty of that at this meeting. I will give him credit for actually facing constituents, even if his answers border on truthiness.

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