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New York Democrat Announces Early Departure From House, Citing G.O.P. Dysfunction

Representative Brian Higgins, Democrat of New York, said on Sunday that he would leave Congress in February.

Mr. Higgins, a Buffalo native who has spent 19 years in the House, said he would step down before the end of his term after a year in which “institutional norms have been compromised.”

“I think, unfortunately, this is the beginning of a bad trend, not the end of it,” he said.

Mr. Higgins, 64, noted that the chamber has been gripped by chaos and dysfunction. He assigns blame to the growing influence of Republicans seeking public attention and viral moments through aggressive floor speeches and controversial legislative amendments.

“It’s all individuals that have weaponized the legislation-making process,” he said. “And this is where I think the current leadership of the House has failed miserably. They’re the poster child for dysfunction right now, as evidenced by their own inability to identify what they want and to develop a strategy to achieve what it is they want.”

Under New York law, Gov. Kathy Hochul has to call a special election next year to find a successor for Mr. Higgins.

In his 10th term in Congress, Mr. Higgins is a center-leaning member of the Ways and Means and Budget Committees. He plans to remain in office until the first week of February. His resignation will open a seat representing New York’s 26th Congressional District, a heavily Democratic region including Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Dozens of incumbent members of the Senate and House have announced decisions not to seek re-election, and a growing number have said their departure will be a retirement from public office.

Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, announced last week that he would not seek another term.

Mr. Higgins said he was recently in the running to fill an opening as the president of Buffalo State University. Once his intentions to leave Washington became more widely known in his district, more opportunities started to materialize, as did plans to find his replacement.

“I feel fortunate to have some choices here,” he said.

In a social media post praising Mr. Higgins after his announcement, Governor Hochul suggested that he may have accepted a position to become the president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. But he said in an interview that a decision had not been made.

Other tributes quickly began pouring in from officials in the state.

“Throughout his historic career, he has been an integral part of the transformation of our region,” State Senator Sean M. Ryan said in a statement.

State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy said Mr. Higgins had changed “the way the nation sees Buffalo,” revitalizing the city’s waterfront and securing federal infrastructure investments.

The two state lawmakers, both Democrats from Western New York, are seen as possible candidates to seek Mr. Higgins’s House seat.

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