Staunch progressive and LGBT ally Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, has announced his retirement at the end of this term, his 20th.
During a congressional career that began when Gerald R. Ford was president, Waxman became one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific and savvy legislators, focusing on issues related to healthcare and the environment. He played a central role — sometimes over opposition within his own party — in passing laws that dramatically cut air pollution, helped reduce smoking, expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor, reduced pesticides in food, made generic drugs more widely available, helped AIDS patients, promoted the development of drugs for rare diseases and improved federal regulation of nursing homes. Among his legislative victories was the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which he helped write and push through the House. Passage of the law fulfilled “one of my lifelong dreams” by guaranteeing access to healthcare coverage for Americans, he said.
Waxman has long been the whipping boy for the Tea Party, primarily due to his advocacy for the environment and his vehement opposition to the death penalty. We thank him for his service.