Representative Jason Chaffetz is giving Maryland Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings a tour of Utah. And the two congressmen hope to achieve a lot with the trip.
In June, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, took a tour of Rep. Elijah Cummings', D-MD, inner city Baltimore district. This weekend Chaffetz returned the favor by showing Cummings around some of Utah’s most picturesque locations. But Chaffetz says the trip wasn’t just a vacation. It was a chance for the two to get a better understanding of the unique challenges their constituents face.
“I believe in that adage, seek first to understand then to be understood. And if you break bread with somebody, you get to know somebody, it makes it much easier to actually sit down and make the case," he says. "I don’t think that compromise is a dirty word. I think as Congressman Cummings has said, we not only have to find common ground, we have to find higher ground and we have to come together at those issues.”
During one part of the tour Cummings had the opportunity to meet with county commissioners from several rural counties and listen to their concerns about public lands and the federal government. He says that was the part that had the most effect on him.
“To sit down and here people talk about their business and how what the federal government does or does not do might affect them," Cummings says. "And what I heard over and over again is that I just want them to understand and take, and do whatever is necessary to make sound decisions.”
Chaffetz says the experience has helped strengthen his relationship with Cummings, even if they often disagree. He says he hopes it will lead to more compromise when crafting legislation in the future. Both men serve on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.