ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WOOD) — Eighteen-term U.S. Rep. Fred Upton says he will not seek reelection to Congress this fall.

Upton, a Republican from St. Joseph, made the announcement Tuesday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Even the best story has a last chapter. This is it for me,” he said. “I’ve done the zillions of airline millions back and forth, I’ve signed ‘Fred’ to over a million letters, cast more votes than anyone in this chamber while here and by most accounts have succeeded in making a difference, accomplishing what I’ve set out to do with more unfinished work still yet to come.”

Becoming emotional, he thanked his parents, who he said were watching on C-SPAN, for their guidance in life. He also thanked his wife Amey and their family and promised her a “happily ever after.”

“Thanks again to the people of my district, who placed their faith and confidence in me all these great years,” Upton said. “God bless the USA.”

His decision comes after Michigan’s congressional district lines were redrawn, putting Upton and Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, in the same district. Huizenga has announced he is running in the newly drawn 4th District.

Upton has served Southwest Michigan in Congress since 1987. He called his constituency “wonderful and diverse.”

“These folks are truly the salt of the earth and I love them all, I really do, even the few that don’t always love me,” Upton said.

Before that, he worked in the White House under President Ronald Reagan and as a congressional staffer. He is the vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which aims for bipartisan solutions to get things done.

“Throughout my career, I’ve leaned on lessons from my Reagan White House days,” Upton said. “Reagan worked both sides of the aisle to get things done, caring less about who got the credit. And I made a promise that such a principle would be my guiding light. Especially in these days of divided government, that is the only way one can actually get legislation enacted.”

He touted his 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016 when he was chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He said it “laid the foundation” for the speedy approval of COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer vaccine finished in Kalamazoo.

He also highlighted work to expand the Cures Act; encourage energy independence in North America, pursue renewable resources and deal with climate change; lowering the corporate tax rate to promote domestic job production; bail out automotive giants to maintain jobs; protect the Great Lakes and clean water; and respond to the pandemic, among other things.

“I’ve worked with seven (presidential) administrations, seven House speakers. None of them would call me a rubber stamp. If it’s good policy for Michigan, it’s good enough for all of us,” Upton said.

Upton was among 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids was also among those 10. Upton also voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill — pushed forward by the Problem Solvers — that passed Congress last year. He told News 8 that as a result, his office received dozens of expletive-filled calls and threats. He said at the time it was indicative of a type of political vitriol he had never seen in all his time in Washington.

“Hopefully, civility and bipartisanship versus discord and can rule, not rue, the day,” he said on the House floor Tuesday.


Upton was followed on the floor by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, who praised Upton’s more than three decades of “devoted” public service to his district, his state and his nation.

“He has always put the people he served first,” Dingell said. “To him, bipartisan and compromise are not forbidden words. Fred knew well that if we are going to deliver real solutions for the American people, we need to come together and listen to all perspectives, no matter how complicated the issue might be. And it is because of that thinking he was able to get so much done in Congress.”

Todd Gustafson is the head of Kinexus Group, a family of economic workforce and community development organizations in southwest Michigan and throughout the state. Among the different economic causes Upton championed, Gustafson said he witnessed the congressman’s support for at-risk youth for YouthBuild grants through the Department of Labor.

“It helps those kids go on to get an education, a skillset, and a job. He helped advocate for and vote for legislation that supported those kids,” Gustafson said. “Regardless of what people think about his politics, he is one of those few people that I know really cared about the community, the people, the businesses and making sure that we were all vibrant.”

“Congressman Upton is a lifelong Michigander, loyal U of M fan, faithful public servant, and family man. He is a passionate advocate for the issues he cares about and never hesitates to showcase his independent streak. Over decades of service, he has protected the Great Lakes and shaped major legislation on energy, the environment, manufacturing, and so much more. Mr. Upton’s leadership is bipartisan, commonsense, and empathetic. We could all learn something from his tenure and strive to live and lead with the values he embodies. I know that Mr. Upton will continue getting things done for Michiganders and leading on the issues that matter most in our great state.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“As the senior Republican in our Michigan delegation, @RepFredUpton has been a strong partner in working together on important issues for our state. I wish him the best as he retires – enjoy those grandkids, Fred!”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Twitter

“I want to thank Fred for his commitment, service, and dedication to Michigan over the years. Fred and I have worked together on a host of issues including prioritizing the protection of the Great Lakes, leveling the playing field for Michigan agriculture, and supporting efforts to clean up PFAS and lead contamination. Fred’s statesman-like legacy will be remembered both in Michigan and our nation’s capital. I wish both he and Amey the best as they start their next chapter.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland

“Fred Upton has been a dear friend and leader with integrity, genuine compassion and loyalty to the people of Michigan. In an incredibly polarized Congress, Fred continues to be a beacon of civility who is never afraid of doing what is right, even when it’s hard or unpopular. Now more than ever, we need more public servants cut from the same cloth as Fred Upton.

“When Flint families needed help during the water crisis, Fred was there for my constituents. Together, we passed the Kildee-Upton law—through a Republican Congress and a Democratic president—to strengthen public notification requirements for high levels of lead in drinking water. Fred has always been a partner in the fight to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, including cleaning up PFAS chemicals and protecting the Great Lakes.

“Jennifer and I wish Fred, Amey and the entire Upton family happiness in their next chapter together after decades of public service to Michigan and the nation.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint

“Congressman Fred Upton has dedicated more than thirty years to serving the people of West Michigan, leading his community with honor and distinction. Throughout his time in Congress, Upton supported lowering taxes, stood up for small businesses, and fought against dangerous Democrat policies. We thank Fred for his tireless advocacy on behalf of Michigan in the halls of Congress and wish him nothing but continued success in his future endeavors.”

Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser

“For over three decades, Congressman Fred Upton has served the people of Southwest Michigan and the country with distinction through his service in the House of Representatives. Congressman Upton established himself early in his career as a leader in Congress working to solve some of America’s most daunting challenges.

“During his time as Energy and Commerce Committee chairman and as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Congressman Upton was always at the forefront of crafting impactful bipartisan legislation. From the 21st Century Cures act to the transformational Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congressman Upton was always a leader in Congress who got real results for his constituents and the country.

“In his announcement speech on the House Floor, Congressman Upton recounted that his approach to serving in Congress was similar to a motto he learned while in the Boy Scouts, to leave the campsite better than you found it. The U.S. Chamber has been proud to work with him in that spirit.

“We thank Congressman Upton for his commitment to public service, salute him for his accomplishments, and wish him and his family well as he moves on to future challenges.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Dingell called Upton a dear friend and said he was also the best friend of her late husband John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress ever.

She also praised Upton’s enduring civility, which she said Congress will miss the most.

“Fred really believed that he was an American first, that reaching across the aisle was important, that working together is how we get things done for the American people,” Dingell said. “His retiring is a loss for this country and especially the people of Michigan.”

— News 8’s David Horak contributed to this report.