ST. GEORGE – Rep. Chris Stewart has been named chairman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the Department of Defense, a position Utah’s congressman said he is honored to serve.
Stewart, R-Utah, will lead the Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee.
“The fundamental role of the federal government, as outlined in the Constitution, is to provide for the security of our nation,” he said in a prepared statement. “And in an era where terrorist threats are far too common, the need for national security has never been more important.
“I’m honored to be named chairman of the Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee, which is tasked with the critical role of overseeing our Department of Defense and space-based intelligence activities.”
In a phone interview with St. George News Wednesday, Stewart said that addressing terrorism is only part of the whole picture when it comes to threats to America and the responsibilities of the subcommittee.
“I’ve been arguing on the committee but also in public forums, saying we spend so much of our time, our attention and our money on countering terrorism, which we should, but it’s not the only threat,” Stewart said.
“There are much more existential threats to us in the sense that unless terrorists develop weapons of mass destruction, and they haven’t yet – and God forbid if they do – but there are other nations that really do pose a serious threat to us in the sense they really do have much more ability to do us harm and we can’t forget that fact.”
The subcommittee oversees the National Reconnaissance Program, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program, the General Defense Intelligence Program and some Department of Defense activities.
As a former pilot in the Air Force, Stewart said he feels the position is a good fit and responsibility for him.
While Stewart’s role as chairman of the subcommittee is not about bringing jobs to the state, Utah’s congressman said he believes he can help in that regard because of the contacts he will have as a result.
“Utah has meaningful national defense and aerospace industries that I will be working with very closely and hopefully that adds to the economic benefits of Utah as well,” Stewart said. “My job in this committee is not bringing jobs to Utah. My job is to protect and defend the United States and our interests around the world; but it doesn’t hurt that you have Boeing and other defense industries that are hiring thousands of employees in Utah and in my district, and it doesn’t hurt to have that relationship and that friendship.”
The new position will also help Stewart to gain credibility with other members of Congress, he said and added that it will help him to fulfill his other responsibilities as a representative of Utah in getting legislation passed in the House.
Stewart said he plans to continue working on the environmental and public lands issues concerning rural Utah and believes there will be some real change under the incoming Trump administration.
‘’We’ve had four years of real frustration and we just shake our heads sometimes, but that’s different now. It’s actually different,” Stewart said. “We’re not going to have a bed of roses. It’s not like things are just going to be laid in front of us and everything falls in place.
“It’s still going to be a battle but the difference is they’re going to be battles we can win, not every one of them, but we’re going to win a bunch of them and that’s just a very cool thing for our country. I am in such a good mood. I’m just really grateful for this chance to really go out and now help some people.”
Stewart will continue to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.
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