Bishop Hosts German, Congressional Delegations in Northern Utah
Taking advantage of the opportunity to show off much of what northern Utah has to offer, Congressman Rob Bishop finished playing host this week to a delegation made up of members of the US Congress and the German Parliament. The group, which numbered almost 50 including business and other political leaders, was in Utah for four days participating in a legislative exchange and public policy forum.
"It was exciting to have this kind of impressive group in our backyard," Congressman Bishop said. "These folks are legislative leaders from America and Germany and put together they represent millions of constituents. I was honored to host them in Utah and participate in what was a very constructive exchange of ideas."
The event, officially named the Congress-Bundestag Seminar, consisted of a number of policy forums where elected officials and government and private sector experts offered opinions, insights, and discussed potential solutions to domestic and international problems. Some of the topics covered included progress in Afghanistan, foreign policy towards China, bio-fuels and energy policy, religion in politics, trade regulation, and the future of NATO.
Congressman Bishop added, "I think each of us left the conference with a broader perspective on a lot of these issues. There was a conviction that we can continue to work together for decent solutions – whether it's combating terrorism or producing better and more efficient energy."
In addition to the policy sessions, Congressman Bishop made sure to include on the agenda a number of opportunities for the group of lawmakers to experience northern Utah. The group started their first full day in the Beehive State with a visit to the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed by lunch with Governor Jon Huntsman at the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake. Two days later, after attending a live broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, they were greeted by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the LDS Church's First Presidency, who grew up in Germany and was formerly chief pilot of Lufthansa German Airlines.
But Congressman Bishop was not satisfied to have the group spend the entire time in Salt Lake City. "We realized when we were putting this whole conference together, that Rob felt very strongly about taking the whole group out of Salt Lake to really experience different parts of northern Utah," Bishop spokesman Scott Parker said. "Even if it added a little time or made logistics trickier, you could tell Rob was proud to show off what we have in the Top of Utah."
Two of the northern highlights for the group were a tour of Fresenius Medical Care in Ogden and a visit to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Box Elder County.
Fresenius Medical Care, whose parent company is based in Germany, is a leading manufacturer of dialysis products and equipment. Members of the U.S. Congress and the German Parliament used the conference room at the Fresenius facility in Ogden for two different policy discussions, and were led by staff there on guided informational tours of the manufacturing plant.
The lawmakers then drove from Ogden up to Brigham City for an in-depth tour, partly on air boats, of the Bird Refuge. Congressman Bishop used the tour of the refuge to help demonstrate to the group the positive impact man can have on the environment.
"It's not every day you get multiple members of the Congress, let alone the German Parliament, up to places like Ogden or Brigham City," Congressman Bishop noted. "We wanted to show off northern Utah, but also show how our state was positively impacting things like health care and the environment."
Some of the members participating in the five-day event from the U.S. side included Representatives Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Mike Turner (R-OH), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) and Buck McKeon (R-CA), along with members of the Utah Congressional Delegation. The German Delegation was led by Parliament Member Hans-Ulrich Klose, and they were joined by Dr. Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador to the United States.
This annual conference is put on by the Congressional Study Group on Germany, of which Congressman Bishop currently serves as the Chairman, and is sponsored by the US Association of Former Members of Congress (USAFMC). The USAFMC is a non-profit, non-partisan, educational, research and social organization. Though it is a separate institution, it has been chartered by the United States Congress. According to the Association's website, the Study Group on Germany is one of the largest and most active organizations linking Members of the U.S. Congress to legislators of another country, in this case the German Bundestag.