Rep. Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat, announced Sunday that he will leave Congress in early February.
Higgins, who’s served in the House since 2005, said in a statement that he’s grown frustrated with how slowly legislation and change happen in Washington, “especially this year,” and said that, “after thoughtful consideration,” he has made “the difficult decision to leave Congress and explore other ways I can build up and serve Buffalo and Western New York.”
“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.”
Since Election Day last Tuesday, three other members of Congress have announced their decision not to run again: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).
Higgins did not outline in the statement what his post-Congress plans are. Local New York outlets, including WGRZ and the Buffalo News, have reported that the congressman is expected to become the president and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. That news appeared to be confirmed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who in a tweet celebrating Higgins’ congressional career, said she knows the lawmaker “will take Shea’s to the next level.”
A spokeswoman for Higgins did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his next steps.
In her post, Hochul also said Higgins — whom she befriended during his time on the Buffalo City Council and with whom she worked with in Congress — “defined what public service is all about.”
“The projects he took on against all odds will be part of his legacy,” she said.
According to the New York constitution, Hochul must call a special election within 10 days of Higgins’ resignation.
The congressman represents New York’s 26th District, which includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee, criticized lawmakers who “chase the twenty-four-hour news cycle, focusing on the issue of the day” and who later have “little to show” for their work in Washington.
The congressman is widely seen as a centrist Democrat. Higgins replaced Republican Jack Quinn, who in his last term in Congress represented the 27th District after representing the 30th District for 10 years. After redistricting in 2013, the 27th District became obsolete, and Higgins became the representative for New York’s 26th. He has handily won reelection there since 2012.