Longtime NY House Democrat Brian Higgins to step down over frustrations in Congress

Longtime NY House Democrat Brian Higgins to step down over frustrations in Congress

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) announced on Sunday he plans to resign in February after 19 years, citing frustrations in Congress during a particularly tumultuous year for the chamber.

Higgins, who represents New York’s heavily Democratic 26th Congressional District, cited growing dysfunction.

“I’ve always been a little impatient, and that trait has helped us deliver remarkable progress for this community,” Higgins said in a statement. “But the pace in Washington, D.C. can be slow and frustrating, especially this year.”

“Therefore, after thoughtful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to leave Congress and explore other ways I can build up and serve Buffalo and Western New York,” he continued.

Higgins, 64, began his 10th term in office in January 2023. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee. Higgins is co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group. He is the co-chair of the Bipartisan Cancer Caucus.

He joins a number of other House members who have announced their departure in recent weeks.

“It was nineteen years ago this month that I was first elected to serve in Congress and doing this work has truly been the honor of a lifetime,” he said in the statement.

“I’ve never lingered on Capitol Hill, I go there on a mission to change my community and return home on the first flight each week because being in Western New York, talking to people here, provides an urgent reminder of what I was sent to Washington to do,” he added.

Higgins made the announcement at a news conference at the Buffalo History Museum, the Associated Press reported.

“It’s just a time for change, and I think this is the time,” and, “I want to come back to the city and serve this city that I have represented in Washington for the past 19 years.”

“Congress is not the institution that I went to 19 years ago. It’s a very different place today,” he said, the AP reported. “We’re spending more time doing less. And the American people aren’t being served.”

During the announcement, he reportedly said he had been fielding offers but did not know what he would do next when he departs in February.

Local outlets have reported that Higgins is likely to accept a job with the prestigious Buffalo’s Shea’s Performing Arts Center, but his office has not confirmed the reporting.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for Higgins did not respond directly to whether the congressman plans to take a position at the prestigious theater, but said, “Today Congressman Higgins announced plans to leave Congress in February.  He will have more to say about future plans in the weeks to come.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) issued a statement following the announcement Sunday, calling Higgins “a dedicated public servant,” who “has brought the best of Buffalo to the House Democratic Caucus family.”

“For nearly two decades, Brian Higgins has embodied the role of Buffalo’s hometown Member of Congress,” Jeffries said. “In Congress, and in the State Assembly and Buffalo Common Council before that, Brian has been a relentless champion for the city’s economic development and prosperity. Brian has left an indelible mark on Buffalo’s waterfront, biomedical research institutions and revitalized infrastructure.

Jeffries added: “As a Member of the Committee on Ways and Means and the Budget Committee, Brian has been a staunch defender of Social Security and Medicare and a champion for lowering health care costs for families in Western New York and across the country. During his time in Congress, Brian also served with distinction on the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees, representing America’s national security interests abroad and here at home.”

Updated 6:08 p.m.

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