Upton portrait unveiled at Capitol

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Michigan’s top-ranking congressional Republican was honored by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee with a portrait that was unveiled Thursday at the Capitol in commemoration of his six years as the panel’s chairman.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, touted his bipartisan work since joining the Energy and Commerce Committee in 1991 and becoming chairman of the panel in 2011, after Republicans took control of the House for the first time since losing it in 2006.

“The has been my family since 1991,” Upton said in a speech before his portrait was unveiled. “In this committee, we always worked together. We didn’t point fingers, we didn’t have partisan stuff. Lots of late nights for sure. Obviously bills … you name it, we did it. ... We saved the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.”

Upton was forced from his chairmanship at the end of last year because of term limits that were set by House Republicans for committee chairs when they took control of the chamber. He was replaced as chairman of the panel by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon.

Upton’s office said he held 562 hearings, had 354 bills that were approved by the House and 202 measures that were signed into law as chairman, including his landmark 21st Century Cures Act that was designed to deliver cash and reforms that would expedite treatment and cures of chronic diseases such as cancer.

“Fred Upton is the reason this got done. Fred Upton is the reason this is now law,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said of the Cures measure, which was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2016.

Ryan said the Cures act is “among the greatest achievements” of Upton’s congressional career.

“... What we do when you come here to serve and ... you have a vision and a legacy to make a big positive difference in people’s lives, you can’t hold a candle to his legacy,” Ryan said of the St. Joseph Republican.

Democrats in the usually bitterly divided House also lavished praise on Upton.

“I want to thank him for his commitment to work in a bipartisan way,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California. “At least that was the reputation, and many times it was the reality.

“He seems too young to have a portrait,” Pelosi added.


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing