|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Kathy Hochul|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 27th district
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Jack Quinn|
|Succeeded by||Chris Collins|
|Member of the New York State Assembly from the 145th District|
|Preceded by||Richard Keane|
|Succeeded by||Mark J.F. Schroeder|
October 6, 1959 |
Buffalo, New York
|Residence||Buffalo, New York|
|Alma mater||Buffalo State College (B.A.)
Harvard University (M.P.A.)
Brian Higgins (born October 6, 1959) is the U.S. Representative for New York's 26th congressional district, serving since 2005. The district, numbered as the 27th District from 2005 to 2013, includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life, education and career
A native of Buffalo, Higgins served on the Buffalo Common Council (city council) from 1988 to 1993, representing the South District. In 1993, during his final year on the Council, Higgins was rated “Buffalo's Best Lawmaker” in a 1993 Buffalo News Survey of Western New York business and community leaders.
He graduated from Buffalo State College with a B.A. in political science in 1984. He later received an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1996. After that, Higgins served as the 145th District representative to the New York Assembly from 1999 through 2004.
Higgins resides in South Buffalo with his wife, Mary Jane, and his two adult children, Maeve and John.
U.S. House of Representatives' career
- Co-chair, Older Cities Task Force
- Member, Great Lakes Task Force
- Member, House Cancer Caucus
- Member, House Steel Caucus
- Member, Congressional China Caucus
- Member, Congressional Arts Caucus
Higgins has positioned himself as a centrist. He describes himself as the most conservative Democrat in the New York delegation. He ran for the Assembly on both the Democratic and Conservative party lines and in the House often agrees with Republicans on issues regarding national security, immigration, and gun control.
Higgins is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. He describes himself as a pro-union moderate who wants to spur job growth. He has said he supports allowing seniors to buy prescription drugs from Canada, and that one of his priorities in Congress will be to push for legislation allowing the government to negotiate for volume discounts on drugs. He has also said he wants Congress to repeal President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals.
He got $279 million over 50 years for Erie County's various governments and agencies from the New York Power Authority as part of the Niagara Power Project 50-year relicensing agreement. Higgins is an advocate for economic development and job creation, and played a pivotal role through his membership on the House's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in securing approval for the construction of a new federal courthouse in downtown Buffalo.
Higgins strongly advocates for increased federal funding for cancer research, as Buffalo is home to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the nation's first major medical facility devoted exclusively to treating cancer.
Higgins has also been active in efforts to secure peace in Northern Ireland. In 2006, Higgins and both Congress Members James T. Walsh and Tim Murphy met with several government leaders in Ireland in which there was a confirmation announcement of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons decommissioning. Government leaders with whom the three congress members met included Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain, US Ambassador to Ireland James C. Kenny, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H. Tuttle, and the leadership of each of the main political parties involved in the process for peace.
Regarding Higgins' visit to Ireland in association with the peace talks, Higgins stated on his congressional website on January 20, 2006:
- I was honored to represent the United States at this important moment in the Irish peace process. My colleagues and I went to Ireland and the United Kingdom to focus international intention on the stalled negotiations and to build momentum for the fulfillment of the Good Friday Accords. While we met with leaders from different nationalities, political parties, and religious faiths, each discussion was filled with hope and the common belief that lasting peace can finally reach all residents of Northern Ireland.
In 2007, Higgins reportedly played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in saving St. Joseph's Hospital in Cheektowaga from closure as proposed by the New York State Commission on Health Facilities in the 21st Century. For 2007, Higgins received an "A+" on the 2007 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues from the Drum Major Institute, which describes itself as "providing ideas that fuel the progressive movement."
Higgins was named by several media outlets as one of the leading candidates to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate after she became Secretary of State in an Obama Administration. He was one of six candidates on New York Governor David Paterson's "short list" for the position; a Web poll conducted by WKBW-TV showed 75% of respondents on the station's Web site would support Higgins being nominated. In the end, Paterson instead appointed Hudson Valley Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. On January 31, 2009, Higgins led a delegation of Western New York elected leaders in welcoming Gillibrand to the region, moderating an economic roundtable discussion held at the Bioinformatics Center of Excellence, located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
In December 2008, after only two terms in the House of Representatives, Higgins secured a spot on the United States House Committee on Ways and Means, considered to be one of the most important and powerful committees in Congress due to its wide jurisdiction. Higgins was subsequently appointed to serve on the Ways and Means Committee's subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, as well as its subcommittee on Oversight. Since the GOP takeover of the House following the 2010 midterm election, Higgins left the Ways and Means Committee (while maintaining a right to return) and became a member of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the United States House Committee on Homeland Security. On the latter, Higgins quickly rose to the position of Ranking Member of the United States House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
On a previous policy position from his web site, Higgins said, "For too long, the Social Security Administration has underfunded and understaffed hearing offices in Western New York…. Citizens who have contributed to the Social Security system throughout their lives should have proper customer service when their benefits come due.” 
In addition, Higgins, along with many other congressional members, sent a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to keep social security, and make it stronger, saying “We write today to express our strong support for Social Security and our view that it should be strengthened. We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age. We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part…. Cutting Social Security benefits beyond the already scheduled increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67 would create even more needless hardship for millions of vulnerable Americans.” This was in response to President Obama giving the task of cutting government spending to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on October 15, 2010. The letter also stressed that Social Security is “prohibited by law from adding to the national budget deficit.” 
While serving in the New York State Assembly from 1999 to 2004, Higgins consistently voted pro-life. Since running for Congress in 2004, Higgins identifies himself as pro-choice. In 2006, Higgins was given a rating of 9% by the NRLC, which indicates a pro-choice stance. Higgins received a score of 100% (a perfect score) from Planned Parenthood in 2012 and from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2011.
Higgins voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In June 2012, Higgins said he believed that, health care providers will have to embrace "Accountable Care Organizations, comparative effectiveness research – which studies various treatments to determine what works best – and other changes.” He believed that this should have been done decades ago.
Higgins strongly believes in a national healthcare program, with a “public option,” a plan in which the government provides healthcare which would compete with other businesses’ plans. A letter written by a group of Representatives to Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, which Higgins signed said “As the Senate continues to work on health reform legislation, we strongly urge you to consider including a public option."  The American Public Health Association gave Higgins a perfect rating of 100% in 2009.
It was reported that Higgins was “proposing something unprecedented in this era of $1.3 trillion annual deficits: a $1.25 trillion, five-year plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, railroads, ports and airports.” The bill, entitled the Nation Building Here at Home Act and based on research by the New America Foundation, would cost significantly more than President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package. Higgins said that he wants to rebuild the US as we've built up Iraq and Afghanistan, and that it is not a stimulus bill, but a "nation-building bill."
Jack Quinn, a moderate Republican who had represented the heavily Democratic 27th since 1993, unexpectedly announced his retirement in 2004. In April 2004 Higgins entered the race, and narrowly defeated then-Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples. Even after redistricting following the 2000 census, the district was made slightly friendlier for Quinn (in part by adding mostly rural Chautauqua County), but was still at the time the most Democratic district in the country to be represented by a Republican. The district has since reverted to form, and Higgins has been reelected three times against Republican opposition, with 2008 and 2010 opponents posted six-figure fundraising numbers. In both 2006 and 2008, Higgins garnered over 70 percent of the vote.
For his first four terms, Higgins represented the southern two-thirds of Buffalo, as well as Chautauqua County. Higgins' district was drawn by the federal special master to be much more Democrat-friendly in the 2012 redistricting, giving him all of Buffalo and several inner-ring suburbs that used to be in the territory of Louise Slaughter and returning Chautauqua County to its traditional Southern Tier district. Also, for the first time Higgins will represent communities in Niagara County, including all of North Tonawanda and all but a handful of residents in Niagara Falls.
- "Why He Matters". WhoRunsGov. Washington Post.
- Congressman Higgins returns from Irish peace talks and announces Gerry Adams visit to Buffalo, Congressman Brian Higgins Western New York, United States Congress, Cheektowaga, NY, 20 January 2006, Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Drum Major Institute for Public Policy". Drummajorinstitute.org. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Elizabeth Benjamin (2008-11-16). "Rep. Nydia Velazquez is front-runner for Senate seat if Hillary takes Cabinet job". Nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- "Higgins Attends White House Business Council Roundtable Discussion on Innovation in Healthcare". Higgins page.
- "Congressman Higgins Assigned to House Ways & Means Subcommittees on Select Revenue Measures and Oversight". Higgins page.
- "Issue Position: Social Security". Vote-Smart.org. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Letter To The Honorable Barack Obama, President, The United States of America". House.gov. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- McCarthy, Robert (3 March 2013). "Enemies in high places – Paladino vs. Higgins". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- "Brian Higgins On The Issues". On The Issues.
- "Brian Higgins Ratings". Votes Report.
- "Health reform's judgment day". Buffalo News. 24 June 2012.
- "Issue Positions (Political Courage Test". VoteSmart.org. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Interest Group Ratings". VoteSmart.org. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- "Issue Positions". House.gov. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Issue Position: Health Issues". Vote-Smart.org. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- "Higgins spending bill tops $1 trillion". Buffalo News. 9 April 2012.
- Congressman Brian Higgins official U.S. House site
- Brian Higgins for Congress
- Brian Higgins on the Open Directory Project
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
|New York Assembly|
|New York State Assembly, 145th District
Mark J. F. Schroeder
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 27th congressional district
2005 – 2013
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district
2013 – Present
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Representatives by seniority