‘Utah Politics’ podcast: Rob Bishop says Congress should have acted sooner on pandemic relief

Bishop reflects on his long career in politics and public service.

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) This Aug. 28, 2019, file photo shows Rep. Rob Bishop talking at the Sutherland Institute about innovations in education, something he knows a bit about having been a high school history teacher for many years.

President Donald Trump threw Congress off-kilter on Tuesday evening when he unexpectedly called for lawmakers to increase the pandemic relief payment for Americans from $600 to $2,000. Rep. Rob Bishop says Congress is in this situation because they waited too long to act.

“A pandemic relief bill should have been passed in June or July. There was a lot of low-hanging fruit everyone agreed to. Democrats and Republicans in Congress would not have played political games with those things,” said Bishop, who was a guest on the “Utah Politics” podcast.

“If we would have done it then, it would have been more effective for people at the time and cost the government a whole lot less.”

The demand for increased pandemic relief from Trump is jeopardizing the $2.3 trillion end-of-year spending bill that was negotiated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen. Mitt Romney. Trump did not outright threaten to veto the bill. But, if Trump were to refuse to sign the legislation, it could lead to a government shutdown.

Bishop, who is at home in Utah recovering from a stroke, says the process that leads to these must-pass, omnibus spending bills is the wrong approach and often leads to bad legislation.

“Waiting this long to negotiate it at the last minute so your back is against the wall is why it was so large and costs so much. There’s so much special interest stuff in there. It’s a process that needs to be adjusted,” he said.

Bishop, who is retiring from Congress after nine terms in the House, also discussed why Americans’ faith in our elections is declining, and what he has learned from his 42 years in the political arena.