California Democrat Henry Waxman Leaves House After 20 Terms

A legislative fixture, the lawmaker helped pass the Affordable Care Act and authored the Clean Air Act

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J. Scott Applewhite / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. Henry A. Waxman,

Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, will retire at the end of this year, he announced Thursday, ending a four-decade congressional career during which he was one of Nancy Pelosi’s closest allies.

The Democrat first ran for office in 1974 and has since helped enact laws target climate change and energy. A legislative giant, Waxman was a key voice in shaping the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Waxman joins a long line of House members, many veterans frustrated with the climate in Washington or fearful of losing at the ballot box in November, retiring this year.

Waxman’s Southern California district includes wealthy enclaves like Beverly Hills and Malibu.

“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,” Waxman said in a statement released Thursday.  “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.”

Pelosi said that “the list of Henry Waxman’s achievements could go on and on.”

“He remains as dedicated to his constituents and to the Congress today as he did during his first term nearly 40 years ago,” she said in a statement. “It has been a true privilege to call him colleague and a distinct honor to know him as a friend. I thank him for his leadership, partnership, and dedication to our country, and I wish him and his family only the best in the years to come.”

Waxman said he’s confident in the remaining House Democrats, yet believes it’s time for someone else to “make his or her mark,” ideally someone young.