Maryland Congressman tours Utah

By Rick Aaron

Published 08/04 2014 06:56PM

Updated 08/05 2014 03:51PM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) - Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) is one of the most powerful democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and strongly influences policy that affects Utah but until Sunday, he had had never set foot in the Beehive State.

That changed thanks to Utah 3rd District Representative Jason Chaffetz who served as Cummings tour guide on a two-day visit, taking him on a nighttime cruise on the Colorado River and a short hike around Arches National Park. Chaffetz visited Cummings' district in inner city Baltimore back on June 22nd and 23rd and this was the reciprocal visit.

"I've had the chance to see things that I probably would have never seen if the doors had not been by Congressman Chaffetz for me to come here and for him to come to my district," Rep. Cummings said Monday.

Much of the discussion between this political odd couple centered around land use: agriculture, energy and the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Park.

"What bothers people I think particularly in rural Utah is when they see an East Coast, Washington DC based bureaucrat making a decision that affects these people for generations to come," Rep. Chaffetz said during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol. "There's room for wilderness, there's room for multiple use, there's room for energy. It's not one extreme or the other. but I don't want to have somebody who's never been here, never probably will be here try to shove something down the throat of Utah...This is not just some vacation destination spot for a group of Californians. This is real peoples' lives who have been working this land for generations."

The visit also included a lunch meeting with Governor Gary Herbert and wrapped up with a tour of the Welfare Square operations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Cummings said the best part was meeting the people of Utah.

"When you come together and sit down and you sit down and you realize I'm looking at somebody a long ways from where I live who may have never stepped a foot in a district like mine but I can relate to him.. It's just a reminder that yeah we've got our different issues but we have got to learn that we've got to be supportive of each other," Rep. Cummings said. "When people see two people like us who can do this, I think that sends a very very powerful message."

Chaffetz says he'd like to bring other lawmakers to Utah in the future. Cummings, the ranking democrat of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says he's love to return sometime.


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