Issue One offers our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of former Congressman Amo Houghton as we remember his remarkable life. Congressman Houghton was a vital and active member of our ReFormers Caucus, a bipartisan coalition composed of 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials advocating for solutions to fix our broken political system. He passed away on Wednesday, March 4 at the age of 93.
During his 18-year tenure representing the state of New York, Congressman Houghton was known as a bridge-builder, constantly being asked to serve as a broker between growing partisan divisions. His attempts to civilize Congress live on through the Republican Main Street Partnership, of which he was a founding member. Congressman Houghton did not subject himself to the wills of either party but rather elevated himself by voting for what he thought would truly help his constituents. Because of this, he was a regular advocate for fiscal responsibility and also supported environmental protection and voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq.
Prior to his Congressional service, Houghton served honorably as a private first class in the United States Marine Corps during the Battle of the Caribbean. The only Fortune 500 chief executive to serve in Congress, Houghton also had an illustrious business career with his family’s company, Corning Glass. Rather than use his name to his advantage, Houghton chose to start his career as an accountant at the company and work his way up to chairman and chief executive officer. Later he would go on to serve on the boards of IBM, First National City Bank, Procter & Gamble, Genentech, and B.F. Goodrich.
Of his time in Congress, Houghton remarked in a 1997 profile, “If you want to do the thing you were sent down here to do, you must be able to do it with both sides of the aisle.” At a time marked by constant disagreement in our political discourse, Congressman Houghton’s message will be remembered as one of great decorum and effectiveness.
Congressman Houghton is survived by his brother, four children, nine grandchildren, and a great-grandson. He will be missed by all of us here at Issue One and we hope his legacy of civility and bipartisanship will live on.