Statement From Congressman Brian Higgins
“I will vote to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Last summer, I indicated a desire to see new Democratic leadership in 2019. At the time, I believed that our caucus needed to do a better job telling the American public what we are for, not against. For example, I have been a consistent advocate for a Medicare buy-in option for Americans aged 50 and over, but it was not a priority for my party’s leadership. Health care and American infrastructure are areas of concern for me, as is lowering prescription drug costs for Americans.
“Power has been too consolidated atop the Caucus and it was my hope that along with like-minded members, we would forge a new leadership structure willing to forcefully assert the powers of Congress as enumerated in Article I of the Constitution while also empowering more members in the process.
“I identified an eminently qualified colleague with clear leadership ability who possesses respect in all corners of the Caucus: Representative Karen Bass. A progressive leader, former California State Assembly Speaker and friend, I saw in Karen the unique leadership abilities necessary to bring this caucus together. Late last week, Karen indicated to me that she will focus on her bid to be Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. I deeply respect Karen and will continue to look to help her advance in leadership in the future.
“At the urging of several friends and colleagues – in particular incoming Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal – I spoke with Leader Pelosi. After several productive discussions, I am confident that Nancy and the entire leadership team will work with me on making Medicare an option for Americans at age 50, helping to lower health care costs for the 25 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 who have pre-existing conditions and are struggling to manage health care costs. I am also pleased that Nancy remains committed to bringing a $1.5 trillion comprehensive infrastructure bill to the floor next year that will provide millions of good paying jobs to hardworking Americans. And Nancy reiterated a commitment to finally, after 20 years of increases, push changes that would reverse the trend of skyrocketing prescription drug prices by harnessing the purchasing power of the federal government in Medicare and Medicaid to help consumers manage costs.
“Following conversations with Nancy and other Caucus leaders, I have renewed confidence that more voices will be heard, that members will each have greater opportunities to advance policies meaningful to the communities and country we love.
“Some will ask why I have changed my position. The answer is simple: I took a principled stand on issues of vital importance not only to my constituents in Western New York but also to more than 300 million Americans whose lives can be improved by progress in these areas. A principled stand, however, often requires a pragmatic outlook in order to meet with success. I look forward to new beginnings in the 116th Congress, where with leadership’s help, I will continue to advocate for these changes so that this body can better fulfill its constitutional roles.
“This election laid out a public mandate on a return to checks and balances in Washington, and the challenge of the time is too great to allow the potential for terrible dysfunction to cripple our opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role. I will support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker.”