Henry Waxman is a Jewish American politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the longest tenured Jewish representative before deciding not to seek re-election in 2014, citing frustration due to partisan gridlock in Washington.
Henry Waxman was born September 12, 1939, in Los Angeles, and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA and a J.D. from the UCLA Law School.
Waxman represented California's 33rd Congressional District, which includes the cities and communities of Agoura Hills, Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Calabasas, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes Estates, The City of Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Santa Monica, Topanga, Venice, and Vista Del Mar. The 33rd Congressional District also includes a portion of the communities of Hancock Park, Harbor City, San Pedro, Torrance, West Los Angeles, and Westwood.
In January 2011, Rep. Waxman became the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. From 2009 – 2010, he was the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. From 1979 to 1994, he chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, and served as the Subcommittee's Ranking Member in 1995 and 1996.
A leader on health and environmental issues, Rep. Waxman has fought for universal health insurance, comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid coverage, tobacco regulation, AIDS research and treatment, air and water quality standards, pesticide regulations, nursing home quality standards, women's health research and reproductive rights, affordable prescription drugs, and community rights to know about pollution levels.
Rep. Waxman has sponsored a long list of health bills that have been enacted into law. These measures include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (comprehensive health care reform), the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the Ryan White CARE Act, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act, the Safe Medical Devices Act, the Patent Term Restoration and Drug Competition Act (also known as the Hatch-Waxman Act), the Orphan Drug Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009.
Rep. Waxman has also authored laws that improved the quality of nursing homes and home health services and that set policy for childhood immunization programs, vaccine compensation, tobacco education programs, communicable disease research, community and migrant health centers, maternal and child health care, family planning centers, health maintenance organizations, and drug regulation and reform.
Throughout the 1980s, Rep. Waxman championed national health care reform and improvements in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. He successfully led the fight for improved prenatal and infant care for low-income families, for protection against impoverishment for the spouses of persons in nursing homes, and for more services in the community for people needing long-term care. He has also been an advocate for prescription drug coverage in Medicare for people with high drug expenses.
Rep. Waxman is a leader in efforts to assist the elderly by providing them with opportunities for better health care through such programs as improved long-term nursing care and better housing and nutrition. A strong defender of the Social Security System, he fought moves to reduce benefits and to increase the retirement age. He was a co-author of legislation that abolished mandatory retirement for Federal employees and raised the retirement age in the private sector from 65 to 70.
Rep. Waxman has been a leading supporter of family planning programs and the right of women to freedom of choice with respect to safe and legal abortions, including the full extension of this right to lower-income women who depend on the Medicaid program. He has led efforts to stop any limitations on this right and strongly opposes the prohibition of federally funded clinics from offering abortion information and counseling.
A longtime champion of environmental and public health protection, Rep. Waxman introduced the first bill in Congress to stabilize the climate in 1992. Since then, he has continued his work to advance legislation to avoid dangerous, irreversible global warming, most recently with the passage by the House of Representatives of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (also known as Waxman-Markey). Rep. Waxman was one of the primary authors of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, which comprehensively addressed the problems of urban smog, toxic air pollution, acid rain, and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. Rep. Waxman also sponsored the 1986 and 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, the 1996 Food Quality Act (which regulates pesticides), the Radon Abatement Act, and the Lead Contamination Control Act.
From 2007-2009, Rep. Waxman served as Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the principal investigative committee in the House of Representatives. From 1997 to 2006, he served as Ranking Member of the Committee. As Chairman and Ranking Member, he conducted investigations into a wide range of topics from the high cost of prescription drugs to waste, fraud, and abuse in government contracting and formed a Special Investigations Division that prepared hundreds of investigative reports on local and national topics for Members of Congress.
From 2001 to 2008, Rep. Waxman worked to oppose efforts by the Bush Administration to block congressional oversight and roll back health and environmental laws. He launched investigations of White House ties to Enron, contract abuses in Iraq, and the politicization of science. He also fought for disclosure of the names of the energy industry lobbyists who shaped the White House energy plan and filed suit to force the Administration to released "adjusted" data from the 2000 Census that corrects for the undercount of minorities. In addition, Rep. Waxman repeatedly fought efforts by EPA to relax important air pollution and drinking water protections and by FDA to weaken enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
After coming to Congress, Rep. Waxman earned the reputation as an expert on Middle East policy and an effective proponent of American aid to guarantee Israel's security and survival. He served as a Congressional appointee to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and helped found the Congressional Democratic Israel Working Group and the Congressional Task Force Against Anti-Semitism.
Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Waxman served three terms in the California State Assembly, where he was Chairman of the Health Committee, the Committee on Elections and Reapportionment, and the Select Committee on Medical Malpractice. He was the author of such major legislation as the Fair Campaign Practices Act, the Fair Credit for Women Law, and the legislation establishing standards for Health Maintenance Organizations in California.
After retiring from politics, Waxman became Chairman at Waxman Strategies, a public affairs and strategic communications firm. He is also the author of The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works.
He and his wife, the former Janet Kessler, have a daughter, a son, and five grandchildren.