The shake-up in California's congressional delegation continues. This morning, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, 74, of Los Angeles, announced that he won't seek re-election this fall after 20 terms in Congress.
With Waxman's announcement, four of the state's 53 House members have announced they're retiring after the current session of Congress. Rep. George Miller, like Waxman an influential liberal Democrat, announced earlier this month that he won't seek re-election. Miller and Waxman were both first elected to Congress in 1974.
Two Southern California Republicans, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of Santa Clarita, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. John Campbell of Irvine have also announced they'll give up their seats.
In a statement, Waxman said:
“I first ran for office because I believe government can be a force for good in people’s lives. I have held this view throughout my career in Congress. And I will leave the House of Representatives with my conviction intact. I have learned that progress is not always easy. It can take years of dedication and struggle. But it’s worth fighting for.
“My parents were scarred by the Great Depression and as a result they were ardent Democrats. They believed in the ideals of this wonderful country and made sure that I had the opportunity to be the first in the family to get a college education. They taught me that the special interests have plenty of advocates; It’s the poor, the sick, and the powerless who need a champion in Congress. And that’s what I’ve strived to be.
“I take pride in my legislative accomplishments."
As the Los Angeles Times recounts this morning, laws that Waxman wrote have had a wide impact in American life:
In a 2008 speech, Rep. Jan Schakowsky. D-Ill., delivered a speech illustrating the breadth of Waxman’s legislative achievements.
Holding up a bag of potato chips, Schakowsky said, “There is a nutrition label on the bag that we all know and take for granted. Henry Waxman wrote the law that puts these labels on the bag.”
Lifting a bottle of pills, she said, “Henry Waxman wrote the law that created the generic drug industry.” Then displaying an apple, she said, “Henry Waxman wrote the law that removed dangerous pesticide from apples and other foods.”