Rep. Jim Matheson makes last appearance as congressman before Legislature
Steve C Wilson, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, who is not seeking re-election this year, told Utah lawmakers Thursday that politics in Washington is becoming more polarized at a time when voters are more independent than ever.
Utah's only Democrat in Congress said that trend must change.
"Good ideas come from both political parties," Matheson said in his final report to the Utah House as a seven-term congressman. "The way to move forward is by extending a hand, not by drawing a line in the sand."
Matheson said the support he's received from Utah voters shows that a solid majority of them are in agreement, yet elected officials from both sides of the aisle are heading in the opposite direction.
"We’re supposed to be a representative form of government and I believe the future of our country depends on changing this trend of polarization," Matheson said, citing his record of recognizing multiple points of view on issues.
In the Utah Senate, he delivered a similar message.
“As representatives of this state, I hope we collectively take up the mantle leading the way that shows what can be done, rather than what can’t,” Matheson told state senators. “Our constituents deserve nothing less.”
Senate Minority Assistant Whip Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said his speech was a model for how he served, especially when it comes to addressing the issues that really matter to Utah residents.
“I think the thing that I’m most impressed with is you’re leaving the same person as you arrived,” Jones told Matheson. “You’re still true to yourself, and I think that sets a high standard for us.”
Matheson also addressed last year's federal government shutdown that resulted from a fight against the Affordable Care Act led by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and other tea party leaders in Congress.
"I think the government shutdown was a complete failure on the part of those who made it happen," Matheson told the Utah House, adding that he hoped a lesson had been learned. "Nobody won."
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