ST. GEORGE – Elected in 2012 to the U.S. House of Representative serving Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Chris Stewart is seeking re-election. First, however, he must secure the Utah Republican Party’s nomination for the office. If he doesn’t, another Republican will be running for the congressional seat in the general election. To this end, he is meeting with party delegates in an effort to win their support.
Why nominate, re-elect?
“I’ve kept my promises,” Stewart said. “I’ve done the things I have told (the voters) I would do.”
Specifically, he said he has kept his pledge to cut government spending, as well as fight for Utah issues concerning lands and individual liberties.
“The budgets that I have voted on cut spending in a real meaningful way,” Stewart said.
On public lands issues, Stewart said he has been greatly involved in fighting to preserve Utah’s R.S. 2477 roads, as well as deal with matters related to grazing.
The congressman said he has also done everything in his power to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, which he sees as a violation of individual liberties.
Not everyone is satisfied with Stewart’s performance in Congress. Steve MacFarlane, of Veyo, is a state delegate who originally voted for Stewart, yet might not the next time around.
MacFarlane and Stewart verbally sparred over the congressman’s voting record during a candidate-delegate meeting Friday. MacFarlane said Stewart wasn’t cutting federal spending by helping to pass the latest federal budget and farm bill. While Stewart said those measures had elements that cut federal spending, MacFarlane argued they nonetheless raised spending overall.
“There are differences of opinion,” Stewart said.
Leading in Congress
“I don’t want to be a voice in Congress, I want to be a leader in Congress,” Stewart said, and believes he is accomplishing this by serving on particular House committees and subcommittees that can affect federal policy.
Though he is a freshman congressman, Stewart was appointed to be the chair of the House Subcommittee on Environment, and more recently was moved to the House Appropriations Committee. Both of these posts could have gone to more seasoned members of Congress, but went to him instead, he said.
Public lands and the Bureau of Land Management
Related to worries ranchers and others have about the sage grouse being listed as an endangered species and how that may affect grazing and other activities on public lands, Stewart said his position on the appropriations committee could help delay that.
“We can attach a rider on appropriations that precludes the administration from spending any money to list the sage grouse this year,” he said.
Not funding the project would allow the state more time to finish its own studies regarding sage grouse and impacts grazing and other activities may have on the bird. “(Utah) can manage that problem,” Stewart said. “You don’t need the federal government to manage that problem.”
Stewart also said Friday he would be introducing a bill Monday that would move management of wild horses from the BLM over to the state. The state manages deer and elk populations, so why not wild horses, Stewart said.
As well, Stewart said it concerns him that the BLM and other federal agencies have what he called “paramilitary units.” Images of BLM ranger in military-like apparel were seen during the standoff between the BLM and Bundys on April 12.
Since officials with BLM and other agencies aren’t elected to power, they aren’t directly accountable to the people, Stewart said. We will “look at government agencies and look at their paramilitary units and find out a way to defund them,” he said. “There’s no reason the BLM should have units like that. No reason at all.”
State Sen. Evan Vickers, who represents Senate District 28, was at the candidate-delegate meeting in support of Stewart.
Since Stewart has been in office, he has helped Iron County with its prairie dog issue, Vickers said. He has also helped speed up the process of dealing with the federal government.
“He’s been very helpful,” Vickers said.
Also vying for the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District are Larry Meyers, Vaughn Hatton, and Zachary Hartman. The Utah Republican Party’s state-level nominating convention will be held in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
- Congressman Stewart appointed to House Appropriations Committee
- Uncounted endangered species addressed in Stewart’s new House bill
- Stewart introduces bill to curb creation of national monuments in Utah
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