LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When the gavel signaled the end of the 113th session for Congress this month it also marked the end of a 40-year career in Washington for California Congressman Henry Waxman.
CBS2/KCAL9 political reporter Dave Bryan interviewed the liberal Democratic lawmaker about some of the bills he fought for that changed Americans’ lives.
Waxman helped write major environmental laws affecting drinking water and air quality. He said it took years for him to pass some of the health and environmental laws which we now take for granted in our everyday lives.
One of his Democratic colleagues declared that when it comes to the issue of climate change Waxman acts as Congress’ conscience.
And in a recent speech to the Anti-Defamation League, Waxman said about his departure from Congress, “We’ve been together, in the 40 years I’ve been in Congress, and I believe there will be a life after Congress for me.”
After decades spent representing California’s 33rd district in the House of Representatives, Waxman made it clear he’s not finished yet, even though he’s retiring from Congress.
Waxman could be a firebrand when pushed, but also has a long list of legislative accomplishments.
The walls of his office were lined with photos and documents detailing the battles he fought and the bills he passed, including a 1984 law that legalized low-priced generic medicinal drugs and the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, which he played a key role in writing and passing, as well as environmental laws.
“I’m proud of the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water law, which are two landmark pieces of environmental legislation.”
“So much of the legislation that I authored took years, even though they’re looked at as common-sense proposals now,” Waxman said. “And of course we would have labels on food to tell us nutritional information. And of course we wouldn’t have smoking in public places because we don’t want to force a non-smoker to breathe in that tobacco smoke. And of course we would have a law to clean up the air pollution. People think this all made sense and it was easy, but none of it was easy.”
As for next month, when Republicans will take control of the Senate in addition to the House, Waxman says it will still be possible to find areas of agreement — despite the expected Washington gridlock — when it’s in the interest of both parties.
He said, “Republicans are going to have to show that they can govern, and they known that. And some of them are going to want to show some accomplishments for their time in office, thought it can’t just be politics, posturing, image, message all the time.”
Waxman says he was in sync with his district, which includes some very liberal territory, ranging from west L.A., along the coast from Malibu, to Rancho Palos Verdes, and stretches through Santa Monica and Beverly Hills on the east.
Republicans aren’t mourning Waxman’s departure, but for Democrats, it spells a huge loss.