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Jan 8, 2015 3:41 PM

Things to know from the career of Sen. Barbara Boxer

The Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California announced Thursday she will not seek re-election in 2016 to a fifth term. Here are some things to know from her long career:


The Brooklyn native was a stockbroker on Wall Street before moving to California in 1965 with her husband, Stewart. Boxer soon began organizing campaigns concerning the most pressing issues of the day, such as the war in Vietnam. She ended up working as a congressional aide for Rep. John Burton, running his Marin County office. She won a board of supervisors' race in 1976 and succeeded Burton in 1982.


After nearly a decade in Congress, Boxer got caught up in the House banking scandal in 1992. The loosely run House bank routinely allowed members to withdraw more money than was in their account. She was among the worst offenders with 143 overdrafts, but the political damage did not deter her from running for the Senate a few months later.


Boxer was elected to the Senate in an election that marked a watershed year for women in politics, with four winning seats. Boxer prominently displays in her office a photograph of her and six other female members of the House marching up the steps leading to the Senate, where they demanded that senators hold hearings on Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas before holding his confirmation vote. She won her three subsequent Senate races by double-digit margins.


A staunch supporter of environmental protections, Boxer authored legislation that has designated more than 1 million acres of land in California as wilderness, a classification that is the highest level of protection and generally does not allow for motor vehicles, new roads and mining. She also led efforts to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.


Boxer has said she is most proud of the 2002 vote that she cast against the war in Iraq. She voted to support the war in Afghanistan. Boxer also joined the majority of her Democratic colleagues in voting against authorizing the use of force in the first Gulf War.


On occasion, she found common ground with Republicans, but mostly infuriated them. After George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, Boxer challenged Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which delayed his formal re-election for a few hours. While Boxer defended the move as a way to raise awareness of voting problems, Republicans saw it as a partisan poke in the eye. Former Republican Sen. Robert Dole once referred to Boxer as the most partisan senator he had ever known.


She is one of the chamber's leading voices for abortion rights. Boxer authored the Freedom of Choice Act of 2004 and participated in the floor fight for passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. Advocacy groups such as Emily's List and Planned Parenthood dedicated considerable sums to help her last re-election bid.


Boxer has been a persistent critic of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, saying the agency has been too slow and lax when it comes to ensuring the safety of California's last operating nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon. She also held NRC officials' feet to the fire in the long-running investigation at the now-closed San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California.


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