Fred Up­ton


The Detroit News - - Front Page -

Fred Up­ton has been com­mit­ted to bi­par­ti­san­ship since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1986. Up­ton, R-St. Joseph, said the im­por­tance of reach­ing across the aisle was im­planted in him by for­mer House Mi­nor­ity Leader Robert Michel of Illi­nois. The long­est-serv­ing mi­nor­ity leader in U.S. House his­tory warned him and other in­com­ing GOP law­mak­ers about the lim­i­ta­tions of life in the mi­nor­ity, where Repub­li­cans were mired for the first eight years of Up­ton’s ca­reer.

“He said, ‘You’re in the mi­nor­ity, and you have been for 40 years. Three things are go­ing to hap­pen here: Your bills are go­ing to get beaten, they’re never go­ing to get brought up or they’re go­ing to get stolen,’ ” Up­ton said.

“I said, ‘That’s never, never go­ing to hap­pen to me.’ From day one, my bills have been bi­par­ti­san.”

Up­ton, who has rep­re­sented south­west Michi­gan for 30 years, has been a mem­ber of the GOP ma­jor­ity from 1995-2006 and since 2011, when he be­came chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. He only lost the po­si­tion this year be­cause of a House GOP term-limit rule for com­mit­tee lead­ers.

The epit­ome of his phi­los­o­phy was last year’s pas­sage with over­whelm­ing Demo­cratic sup­port of the land­mark 21st Cen­tury Cures Act, what he con­sid­ers his big­gest leg­isla­tive achieve­ment. It was signed into law by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, backed by Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and de­signed to de­liver $6.3 bil­lion and re­forms to expedite treat­ment and cures of chronic dis­eases such as can­cer.

“Cures was a big ef­fort. It took three years. We passed it 392-26” in the House, said Up­ton, 64.

“You don’t solve a dis­ease in one fis­cal year. It


Fam­ily: takes many years.”

Wash­ing­ton-based Repub­li­can strate­gist John Fee­hery said Up­ton’s rep­u­ta­tion as bi­par­ti­san deal­maker is well-earned. “Fred has al­ways tried to work with Democrats. Some­times it has been suc­cess­ful and some­times not,” Fee­hery said. “Now that he is no longer a chair­man, he doesn't have the same pres­sure to toe the lead­er­ship line, which means he has more free­dom to be as bi­par­ti­san as the Democrats will let him.”

Up­ton said he con­tin­ued to reach across the aisle, even as the chair­man of a com­mit­tee that has played a big role in reg­u­lat­ing the na­tion’s auto in­dus­try. The re­sult was 202 mea­sures signed into law as chair­man, ac­cord­ing to Up­ton’s of­fice.

“I’ve got a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “They know I’m not a par­ti­san fin­ger-wa­ver.”

As a mem­ber of the mod­er­ate Repub­li­can Tues­day Morn­ing cau­cus, Up­ton says he has sought a mid­dle ground in ef­forts to re­peal and re­place the Af­ford­able Care Act. He says he stood up to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, in­sisted on get­ting more money into the House health care over­haul bill and said he is seek­ing fur­ther im­prove­ments in any Se­nate health care leg­is­la­tion.

Democrats have at­tacked Up­ton’s role in the health care leg­is­la­tion and his con­tin­ued con­sid­er­a­tion of a pos­si­ble run against U.S. Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow, D-Lans­ing, in 2018.

But Up­ton said he in­tends to con­tinue work­ing with Democrats, even as rank par­ti­san­ship seems to rule Wash­ing­ton.

“I want to get things done,” he said. “That’s why I am here.” Why hon­ored: For his com­mit­ment to bi­par­ti­san­ship

Keith Laing

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