As Congress approaches difficult budget negotiations this fall, Rep. Blake Moore of Utah addressed what members of the U.S. House are trying to do to cut the federal budget, while also trying to avoid a shutdown.

Moore said Senate appropriators had already advanced 12 spending bills out of committee, but the House is still working to get bills passed.

“So, they’re farther down the road than we are in the House,” he told the Deseret News after speaking about the national debt and government spending on Tuesday at the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University, as part of the Sutherland Institute’s series of conversations with members of the state’s congressional delegation.

The strategy for House lawmakers is “to get 12 strong bills out of the door as soon as we possibly can,” said Moore, who serves on the Ways and Means and Budget Committees.

“It’s going to be tough because Sept. 30 is four weeks out,” he said, adding that some timelines will likely need to be extended to “get those bills done and out the door.”

Moore, a Republican representing Utah’s 1st Congressional District, said that the Republican Conference has a unified front and hopes to reduce spending to fiscal year 2022 levels, which would mean significant cuts.

On the potential for a government shutdown, Moore said it’s always a possibility. A short-term or long-term continuing resolution to fund the government, which would give lawmakers more time to complete negotiations, is also possible, he said — it all depends on the progress the Republican Conference makes in the coming weeks.

Moore on what 2024 Republican presidential candidates should focus on

Moore told the Deseret News he wasn’t ready to endorse a presidential candidate for 2024, but during his remarks he said that Republican candidates should shift their focus to energy and tax policy.

Moore said instead of policy, the focus of the presidential race so far has been on problems facing the two front-runners.

“The election right now is shaping up to be a narrative about all the things that Trump is going through with these indictments and all the things the Biden family has done with respect to money laundering and payments from malign actors,” he said during his remarks.

But, he noted, the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are set to expire by 2025.

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“It’s very concerning to me about where we’re going and if everything expires, depending on what political situation you’ll have in Congress and in the White House, it’s going to be a very different tax situation going forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the subject of energy, Moore said there should be a more comprehensive approach. The Energy, Climate and Conservation Task Force, which is led by the Republican Conference and includes Moore as well as Utah Rep. John Curtis of the 3rd Congressional District, wants to take a sensible path forward, he said.

Moore said that he supported some parts of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, but his initial reaction was that the bill was “just Solyndra on steroids.”

Solyndra was a solar panel company that received a $535 million loan from the Obama administration in 2009 and filed for bankruptcy two years later.

“Everybody agrees that taking the approach of Solyndra was a mistake,” he said, adding that even the Obama administration recognized “it was a flop.”

Moore said the U.S. should not pick “winners and losers” in the energy market.

Megan Harris shakes hands with Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, after Sutherland Institute’s 2023 Congressional Series at the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University in Ogden on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

What type of tax reforms can boost the economy?

During his Q&A with Sutherland’s Derek Monson, Moore said he wants to advocate for “strong economic growth” and lower spending.

“Every aspect of our government spends too much money,” he said, adding that any tax and revenue reform should propel the country’s growth.

Moore said high taxes drive companies out of the U.S. “We live in a globalized world now, it’s not very difficult to move your company offshore anymore,” which is why any changes to policy should promote American ingenuity and hold on to American corporations that generate returns for the country, he said.

He said during his time living in Singapore, where he worked as a business consultant for three years, he realized why big companies set up their corporate offices outside the U.S. It was “because the tax rate was incredible,” which also boosted Singapore’s gross domestic product, he said.

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“So, we have to use our tax structure to create revenue in a healthy way and to strengthen the American economy,” he added.

Moore, who said he plans to run for reelection, also spoke about the problem of runaway spending on entitlements, and the growing cost of interest on the nation’s debt. Still, he said, he sees a desire among his fellow lawmakers to fix the country’s fiscal problems.

“It’s just not going to happen in a vacuum,” he said. It will require leadership to get ahead, but he said he has hope Congress can address the big problems facing the country.

Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, speaks with Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, and Steve Handy, former state representative and current Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services commissioner, after Sutherland Institute’s 2023 Congressional Series at the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University in Ogden on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News