Upton noted that he had worked with seven presidential administrations and seven House speakers, and said that “none of them would call me a rubber stamp.” Upton was for many years chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, and touted his co-sponsorship of the 21st Century Cures Act to boost medical research and ease drug approvals as one of his signature achievements. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.
“If it’s good policy for Michigan, it’s good enough for all of us,” Upton said.
That history of crossing the aisle, however, grew increasingly untenable in a polarized Congress. Upton received blowback from much of the Republican base after voting with Democrats to impeach Trump last year over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. He remained steadfast that it was Congress’s role to hold Trump accountable and blasted the former president for having “expressed no regrets” for the attack on the Capitol.
Upton also later backed the bipartisan infrastructure bill and received death threats afterward for helping President Biden score a legislative win.
On Tuesday, he cited his work on the infrastructure bill as another one of his achievements, noting that it had “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.”
Because of redistricting in Michigan, a new map forced Upton into the same seat as Rep. Bill Huizenga, a pro-Trump Republican. Trump initially endorsed a state lawmaker who was challenging Upton in his former district, then endorsed Huizenga when it became a member-on-member race.
At a House GOP leadership news conference Tuesday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said Upton would be missed by the conference, and praised him as a leader on energy and commerce issues. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said it was “unfortunate” that redistricting had pitted Upton and Huizenga against one another.
“So, you know, this was a decision [Upton] had to make looking at the dynamics of a member-on-member race,” Scalise said.
Of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Upton will become the fourth to leave Congress rather than seek reelection. Others include Reps. John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), who in September cited “the toxic dynamics inside our own party” as part of the reason for his decision.
The six other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump who are running again — including Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Peter Meijer (Mich.) — face tough primary challenges.
In a statement through his political action committee, Trump appeared to both celebrate and mock Upton’s decision not to run again.
“UPTON QUITS!” Trump said. “4 down and 6 to go. Others losing badly, who’s next?”
David Weigel contributed to this report.