Mitchell: Why I'm leaving Congress

Paul Mitchell

I have been asked innumerable times this past week, “Why retire from Congress after only two terms?” I believe our nation’s founders envisioned the U.S. Congress as a group of citizens, from a range of backgrounds, chosen by their communities to represent them for a period of time -- not a career.  That certainly reflects my perspective on what Congress requires to address the needs of our nation and its people. 

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., is quitting the Republican party.

For 35 years, I worked in workforce development. My mission was to work with people facing a range of challenges, from laid-off auto and steel workers to long-term public assistance recipients, to develop the skills needed to secure a job and build a career. I worked with individuals requiring literacy education or ESL, and adults who had worked in the same job for years and suddenly found their jobs and industries had evaporated, and their lives turned upside down. 

I ran for Congress because I believed, and still believe, that my experience in helping people find jobs and get a leg up in the world would be valuable in our nation’s capital. Once elected, I brought my experience, passion, and commitment to Washington. These last two terms have been extremely busy, and we have accomplished a great deal for both our district and our nation.

During my tenure in Congress, I ensured last year’s Water Resources Development Act included an updated authorization of the second 1,200-foot lock at the Soo Locks, which is vital to ensuring our economic prosperity and national security. I worked with federal, state, and local leaders to secure a $97,864,465 Department of Transportation grant to rebuild Mound Road. I also worked with the Army Corps to release the Brandon Road Study, which is an essential step toward finding a long-term solution to protect our Great Lakes from Asian carp and preserve the Lakes for future generations to enjoy. 

There is still more to be done, and I will continue working as hard as I can until my term ends. We must ratify the United-States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), which ensures trade with our neighbors will be fairer, improves our economy -- especially in industries important to Michigan, like automotive and agriculture -- and supports American workers, farmers, and businesses. I also believe my bipartisan bill, the College Transparency Act, designed to help families make better informed college decisions, has a strong chance of becoming law.

My objective has always been simple: Work hard to address significant challenges facing this nation. However, these days politics overwhelms policy in Washington. Members of both parties trade political barbs rather than work constructively to find solutions. As long as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle prioritize reelection over real solutions, nothing is going to get better.

More importantly to me is the factor people often do not recognize -- the impact being a member of Congress has on my family.

My children of all ages -- but the youngest just 9 years old -- have accepted their dad traveling this country extensively, working a demanding schedule, and frequently interrupting limited “family time” with calls, emails, and text messages.  My spouse Sherry is so supportive and more patient than probably warranted. I have not given my family the time, energy, and presence they deserve, and I look forward to spending significantly more time with them after Congress.

I am extremely grateful to the constituents of Michigan’s 10th District for allowing me to represent them in Congress -- it is truly an immense honor. As I have reminded many people this week, there are still another 14 months to go in this Congress and much to accomplish.

I am going to make it count.

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden Township, serves Michigan's 10th District.