Congressman Rob Bishop is beginning his 8th term in the US House of Representatives. KPCW had the opportunity to interview the Congressman on a variety of topics. A discussion about the partial government shutdown is the first in a series of reports on the Representative’s work in Washington. Carolyn Murray has this:
The partial government shutdown is nearing the end of its third week. The prospects for reaching a resolution seem unlikely. This week, the President spoke of chaos and crisis on the southern border. Wall opponents talk about chaos and crisis in the agencies that are no longer receiving federal funds and the many thousands of federal workers who are furloughed or working for no pay. KPCW talked with US Congressman Rob Bishop from the first district which includes Summit County.
District 3 Representative John Curtis who represents Wasatch County has sponsored a No Work, No Pay Bill which would stop congressional pay during the shutdown. Bishop said he doesn’t believe Curtis’ bill will move the Congress to get the government up and running.
“That becomes a side issue to the real issue which is how do we actually get government operating and functioning. How do we actually deal with the security issue as well. So, I’m here every day working on those types of situations. And I don’t want to lose focus on what the real situation is on how we end the government shutdown and how we get everyone back together again. I don’t want to become involved in side-show, grandstanding issues that are silly. What we need to do is focus specifically on how we actually get the shut down finished."
Bishop said, for years, he’s been talking with border patrol agents and rangers and he believes the southern US border is not secure and that more than just a wall is needed. He supports the President’s declaration that the southern border area is an ongoing security crisis.
“When the President says illegal drugs are still coming over the border and illegal individuals are still coming over the border…especially the drug problem. He’s legitimate and we need to make sure we have the ability and the mechanism, and the man power down there that are unfettered, that are allowed to do their job without hindrances put upon them to actually solve the problem.”
Bishop said there are some common elements of agreement on immigration issues such as DACA and Visas. He said securing the border with the wall and giving the border patrol the ability to do their job, will set the stage for approving other bipartisan immigration programs. Bishop wants to carve out access on restricted public lands on the southern border because he said much of it is closed to vehicle access and smugglers use the areas as corridors to enter the US.
“There are a whole lot of areas which I call low hanging fruit that have common elements of agreement that can be done. From the very first time I did Town Hall Meetings when I was first elected, inevitably the first or the second question has always been about border security on the southern border. There is so much anger and anxiety among the population out there. That angst is actually prohibiting us from meeting some of the other concerns. If indeed, we can come to the point when you can look the citizens in the eye and truthfully say we have control of the border, then all the other issues like the Visas, DACA – they’ll be easy to solve"
Bishop said the $5 billion-dollars wanted for securing the borders is not just the construction costs of building a wall.
“No, everyone realizes that a wall is some kind of border whether you call it a wall or a fence. A border is effective and helpful. What I’m saying is it’s not the only solution. And, that’s why when the President calls for $5 billion-dollars, he’s talking about everything that is necessary for border security, not just the actual construction.”
The next report on Rob Bishop will focus on Utah’s National Monuments, specifically Bear’s Ears and the changes in the Interior Department with the resignation of Secretary Ryan Zinke in December.