Biography of Senator Boxer
A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment, and her State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives. In 2004, she received more than 6.9 million votes, the highest total for any candidate in the nation except for the two Presidential candidates, and the highest total for any Senate candidate ever.
Senator Boxer wrote the law creating the first authorization for federal funding for local afterschool programs. With her leadership, support for afterschool has risen dramatically. The first federal appropriation for afterschool programs was in fiscal year 1995 – for $750,000. Over the next eight years, funding increased to reach $1 billion per year, covering 1.4 million children. She is now pushing for coverage of 3.5 million children by 2007.
A strong proponent of medical research to find cures for diseases, Senator Boxer is part of a coalition to increase that critical effort. Among the first in Congress to recognize HMO abuses, she authored a Patients’ Bill of Rights in 1997 and continues to fight for these much-needed protections and for affordable health care. She wrote a bill to make health insurance tax deductible and another bill to let any American buy into the same health insurance program that members of Congress have. She supports comprehensive prescription drug coverage through Medicare and the right of all consumers to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs reimported from Canada.
The Senate’s leading defender of a woman’s right to choose, Senator Boxer authored the Freedom of Choice Act of 2004 and helped lead the floor fight for passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She is now leading efforts to stop extremists in Congress from weakening a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.
Senator Boxer has won numerous awards for her efforts to create a cleaner, healthier environment. She authored the amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure that drinking water standards are set to protect children and other vulnerable populations. She has been a leader in the fight to remove arsenic from drinking water, block oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and along California’s coast, and revitalize the Superfund by making polluters – not taxpayers – pay to clean up the toxic waste they leave behind.
Senator Boxer has worked to preserve the safety net for older Americans. She introduced the 401(k) Pension Protection Act to protect workers’ retirement nest eggs by requiring the diversification of 401(k) plans; a modified version of her bill was signed into law as part of the 1997 tax bill. This work set the stage for her active involvement in preserving Social Security. Senator Boxer joined colleagues to pass the 1994 Crime Bill, which banned assault weapons and established the COPS program, helping local law enforcement reduce crime to its lowest rate in 25 years. She supports reauthorization of both programs. She strongly supports a ban on cop-killer bullets and authored legislation to require child safety locks on guns. Her bill to prevent the criminal use of personal information obtained through motor vehicle records was signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. She also authored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) while serving in the House and helped steer it through the Senate; it too is now law. She has authored the Violence Against Children Act, based on the successful VAWA.
In response to the September 11th attacks, Senator Boxer authored a bill to protect commercial airliners against attacks by shoulder-fired missiles, and she wrote the law allowing airline pilots with special training to carry guns in the cockpit. She wrote the law to ensure that air marshals would be on board high-risk flights, and she continues to press for implementation of this measure to make the skies as secure as they can be. She has also authored legislation on port security, rail security, and providing assistance to first responders.
Senator Boxer serves on the Senate Committees on Commerce, Foreign Relations, and Environment and Public Works, is the Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, and serves on the Democratic Policy Committee's Committee on Oversight and Investigations.