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Biography Brian Higgins

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Brian Higgins Brian Higgins
Brian Higgins
U.S. Representative - member of the Democratic Party.


Brian Higgins Biography

ENG: Brian Higgins (born October 6, 1959) is the U.S. Representative for New York's 26th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party.


Early life, education and career

A native of Buffalo, Higgins served three two-year terms 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.

Mr. Higgins resides in South Buffalo, New York, with his wife Mary Jane and his two children, Maeve, 19, and John 21.


U.S. House of Representatives - Tenure

Higgins has positioned himself as a centrist. He describes himself as the most conservative and independent of New York's Democratic representatives. 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.

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.


Political campaigns

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 slightly friendlier for Quinn (in part by adding mostly rural Chautauqua County), the 27th 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. Higgins' district was drawn by the federal special master to be much more Democrat-friendly in the 2012 redistricting, giving him all of the city 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 the City of North Tonawanda, New York and all but a handful of residents in the City of Niagara Falls, New York.





January 14, 2013

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