Southwest Michigan Rep. Fred Upton to retire after 35 years in congress
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich., --- Southwest Michigan U.S. House Representative Fred Upton announced his retirement from congress Tuesday morning, after serving Michigan’s sixth congressional district for 35 years.
“Thanks again to all the people of my district who place their faith and confidence in me all these great years,” said Congressman Fred Upton in an emotional address on the house floor Tuesday morning.
The announcement also got reaction from some local Berrien County folks, including a former republican state senator who worked alongside Upton and said his presence will be deeply missed.
“Over a decade I served as district representative here in Southwest Michigan and deputy chief and staff and it was really in that role that I got to watch really the touch and feel Fred has for the people of Southwest Michigan,” said former state Senator John Proos who worked alongside Upton from 1994 to 2004.
Proos was among several other Berrien county residents sad about Tuesday’s announcement.
“It makes me sort of sad, a little disappointed because he’s been such a stalwart of good action and good congregational behavior for many many years and I think a lot of people have looked to him for the kind of leadership that he has provided for this area of Michigan,” said Berrien County resident Daniel Streufert.
Residents also reflected on Upton’s fight for the Southwest Michigan area like his role in the long-awaited US 31 Bypass project, and they said they hope whoever comes after him will continue to help improve the area.
“You know he talked about US 31 when he first ran in 1986. Now he can be a part of actually closing that last stretch of freeway and having an open freeway from the South all the way through 196 and I-94 so that was one of his legacies too,” said Proos.
“We hope that whoever is going to be running for the office will have the same kind of ideas and same kind of wisdom and leadership ability that Fred Upton showed for so many years,” added Streufert.
The announcement comes after Upton would have had to run against another republican senator to keep his seat after new redistricting maps were drawn in Michigan that took him out of the sixth district and moved him into the fourth, which some believe may have played a role in his decision.
Here is the text of his announcement as prepared for delivery Tuesday to the House of Representatives:
It seems like just yesterday when a number of community leaders encouraged me to run for Congress. Against all odds, we ended up winning a hotly contested GOP primary and the journey began.
Throughout my career I have leaned on lessons from my Reagan White House days where my boss and mentor was Ken Duberstein, who later was his Chief of Staff.
Reagan worked both sides of the aisle to get things done, caring less about who got the credit. And I made a promise that such a principle would be my guiding light. Especially in these days of divided government that is the only way one can actually get legislation enacted.
There’s been something special in my household with “highlights” and “lowlights” that we often discuss at the dinner table.
As I reflect back, there have certainly been more highlights representing the wonderful and diverse corner of Southwest Michigan. These folks are truly the salt of the earth and I love ‘em all—even a few that don’t always love me!
As Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a huge highlight was “21st Century Cures.” Hailed as the most important piece of legislation passed in that Congress, it laid the foundation for Operation Warp Speed and faster drug approvals including the first vaccine Pfizer produced in Kalamazoo.
Now, once again with my partner Diana DeGette, we’re pursuing Cures 2.0 with all the disease and patient advocates who joined us on Cures.
My driving mission has been jobs and the economy. Whether it was working on a North American energy independent plan, pursuing renewable energy sources, and yes, dealing with climate change. Changing the tax laws so that no longer do we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world which drove many of our job creators someplace other than America. Being the GOP lead with John Dingell on the auto rescue plan. The industry and all the jobs that came with it was too big to fail.
Pipeline safety, protecting the Great Lakes and our drinking water has also been my focus. Every family in America deserves clean water, period.
I’ve been more than willing to stand up for the less fortunate and vulnerable. Including my vote to cap the price of insulin.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit our brave troops in harm’s way overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and witnessed the tragedy of war like we see today with Putin’s ruthless Ukraine invasion. It was critical to pass the recent humanitarian and military aid.
And of course witnessed 9/11 here and pushed hard on the recommendations by the 9/11 Commission to protect against such an attack again.
As a former Boy Scout, I believe in leaving the campground better than when you found it. I’ve worked with 7 Administrations and 7 House Speakers. None of them would call me a “rubber stamp.” If it’s good policy and good for Michigan, I’m there.
As a Vice-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus, we have pushed the envelope to get things done taking on some complex and often controversial issues that others may want to just sweep under the rug. Immigration reform—including border security—for our Dreamers and Farmers, a real-honest-to-goodness infrastructure bill that passed 69-30 in the Senate but then hit the rocks here in the House barely surviving Trump’s opposition despite his call for a proposal twice as expensive with no pay-fors.
I have worked alongside real giants who put principles over politics. Greg Walden, Paul Henry, Mike Rogers, Pat Tiberi, Susan Brooks, Dent, John Lewis, Mike Castle, Henry Hyde, Amo Houghton, Dave Camp, Nancy Johnson, and Don Young all among the best.
I work daily on all things Michigan with Debbie Dingell and we have been hitting the road to push for civility. Hopefully civility and bipartisanship versus discord can rule, not rue, the day.
Current colleagues like Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Steve Womack, Mario, Josh, Brian Fitzpatrick, Tom Cole, Dave McKinley, Dan Kildee, John Katko, Peter Meijer, and my friend Steny cut the mustard too.
I’ve been blessed having a wonderful, hardworking staff all these years. Yes, two of them, including my Chief of Staff, Joan Hillebrands, have been on my team 36 years with another handful between 15-20 years. Our District team has worked on so many casework issues—in the tens of thousands. Through the COVID nightmare we worked with our local bankers to save dozens of small businesses with PPP help. And we worked to get vital supplies to our wonderful health facilities and frontline workers who are still so stressed today.
Even the best of stories has a last chapter. This is it for me. I’ve done the zillions of airline miles back and forth, have signed “Fred” to over a million letters, cast more votes than anyone in this Chamber while here, and by most accounts have succeeded in making a difference accomplishing what I have set out to do with more unfinished work still yet to come. Arthur Brooks recently wrote about the 3 traits most important in life: honesty, compassion, and faith. I’d like to think those same yardsticks were passed along to me by my parents watching now on C-SPAN.
Someone asked my wife Amey what would be the next chapter? She responded, “And they lived happily ever after.” Indeed we will. I thank Amey, our 2 kids and 3 grandkids for giving me so very much to look forward to.
Thanks again to the people of my district who placed their faith and confidence in me all these years.
God bless the USA.