Utah Congressman-elect gets Natural Resources Committee spot

Published December 11, 2012 5:37 pm

Congress • Stewart will join Bishop on panel overseeing public lands issues.
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Washington • Utah will soon have two voices on the House Natural Resources Committee. The panel announced Tuesday that Rep.-elect Chris Stewart will join the committee, which counts Rep. Rob Bishop as a senior member.

Stewart also expects to sit on the House's Homeland Security and the Science, Space and Technology committees. And it is likely that Bishop will rejoin the House Armed Services Committee.

"I don't expect to go into these committees and rock their world. I'm a freshman congressman," said Stewart, who will represent Utah's 2nd Congressional District. "We have to pay our dues and earn our respect and try to differentiate ourselves by what we do."

Stewart hoped to get on the Financial Services and Armed Services committees, but those openings went to more experienced members of Congress. It's highly likely that Bishop will return to the Armed Services Committee, where he will have an easier time overseeing issues impacting Hill Air Force Base.

Stewart, a former Air Force pilot, said the Homeland Security Committee will dovetail with those issues and the Science committee should help him advocate for the University of Utah and the state's burgeoning tech industry. It is possible that Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will also get a spot on the Homeland Security Committee.

But no committee is more important to his district than Natural Resources. His area includes all of Salt Lake City and then stretches over most of western Utah down to St. George.

Bishop has served as the chairman of the Public Lands subcommittee, though it is not clear if he will retain that post. Either way, Stewart said he would defer to Bishop, as a more experienced lawmaker.

"I think Rob and I are pretty closely aligned when it comes to public lands," he said.