Barbara Levy Boxer (born November 11, 1940) is a retired American politician who served as a United States Senator for California from 1993 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives 1983 to 1993.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Boxer graduated from Brooklyn College. She worked as a stockbroker for several years before moving to California with her husband. During the 1970s, she worked as a journalist for the Pacific Sun and as an aide to U.S. Representative John L. Burton. She served on the Marin County Board of Supervisors for six years and became the board's first female president. With the slogan "Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn", she was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1982, representing California District 6. She sat on the House Armed Services Committee, and was involved in government oversight, passing several procurement reforms.
Boxer won the 1992 election for the U.S. Senate. She previously held the record for the most votes in any U.S. Senate election in history, having received 6.96 million votes in her 2004 re-election, until her colleague, Dianne Feinstein, the senior Senator from California, surpassed that number in her 2012 re-election. Boxer was the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and the vice chair of the Select Committee on Ethics. She was also the Democratic Chief Deputy Whip. Although generally identified with the San Francisco Bay Area, where her political career began, Boxer now lives in the Coachella Valley.
At the time of her retirement, Boxer ranked eleventh in seniority in the United States Senate, and was the most senior junior Senator from the retirement of Tom Harkin in January 2015 until her own retirement two years later. She was also dean of the California Congressional Delegation, despite being the Junior Senator from California, as she spent 10 years as a US Representative for California's 6th district, before being elected to the Senate in 1993.
|United States Senator
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Alan Cranston|
|Succeeded by||Kamala Harris|
|Ranking Member of the Senate Environment Committee|
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||David Vitter|
|Succeeded by||Tom Carper|
|Chairwoman of the Senate Environment Committee|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Jim Inhofe|
|Succeeded by||Jim Inhofe|
|Chairwoman of the Senate Ethics Committee|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||George Voinovich|
|Succeeded by||Johnny Isakson|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 6th district
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Phillip Burton|
|Succeeded by||Lynn Woolsey|
November 11, 1940
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Brooklyn College (BA)|
|Website||Senate website (Archived)|
Boxer was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents Sophie (née Silvershein; born in Austria) and Ira Levy. She attended public schools, and graduated from George W. Wingate High School in 1958.
In 1962, she married Stewart Boxer and graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in Economics. While in college she was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority and was a cheerleader for the Brooklyn College basketball team.
Boxer worked as a stockbroker for the next three years, while her husband went to law school. Later, the couple moved to Greenbrae, Marin County, California, and had two children, Doug and Nicole. She first ran for political office in 1972, when she challenged incumbent Peter Arrigoni, a member of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, but lost a close election. Later during the 1970s, Boxer worked as a journalist for the Pacific Sun and as an aide to John Burton, then a member of Congress. In 1976, Boxer was elected to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, serving for six years. She was the Board's first woman president.
Boxer's husband, Stewart, a prominent attorney in Oakland, represents injured workers in worker's compensation cases, keeping a very low political profile. On May 28, 1994, their daughter Nicole married Tony Rodham, the youngest brother of Hillary Clinton in a ceremony at the White House attended by 250 guests. (It was the first White House wedding since Tricia Nixon married Edward Cox in 1971.) Before divorcing, they had a child Zachary, born in 1995. Zachary held a unique distinction of being both the grandson and nephew of sitting U.S. senators
In 2006, the Boxers sold their house in Greenbrae, where they had lived for many years, and moved to Rancho Mirage. Boxer's first novel, A Time to Run was published in 2005 by San Francisco-based publishing company Chronicle Books. Her second novel Blind Trust was released in July 2009 by Chronicle Books.
Boxer, then a Marin County supervisor, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1982, succeeding John Burton. Her slogan was "Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn." In the House, she represented California's 6th congressional district (Marin and Sonoma Counties) for five terms. She narrowly won her first election with 52 percent of the vote, but easily won reelection four times, never dropping below 67 percent of the vote.
In 1992, Boxer was implicated in the House banking scandal, which revealed that more than 450 congressional representatives and aides, herself included, wrote overdraft checks covered by overdraft protection by the House Bank. In response, she issued a statement saying "in painful retrospect, I clearly should have paid more attention to my account" and wrote a $15 check to the Deficit Reduction Fund for each of her 87 overdrafts.
In 1991, during the Anita Hill Senate hearings, where Hill accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, Boxer led a group of women House members to the Senate Judiciary Committee – demanding that the all-white, all-male Committee of Senators take Hill's charges seriously.
In 1992 4-term incumbent Democratic Senator Alan Cranston retired, creating an open seat contest. In what was billed as the "Year of the Woman" then Rep. Barbara Boxer beat fellow Rep. Mel Levine and Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy in the Democratic primary, winning 44% of the vote. In the general election, Boxer won the U.S. Senate elections that year, defeating Bruce Herschensohn, a conservative television political commentator from Los Angeles, by 4.9%. A last-minute revelation that Herschensohn had attended a strip club at least partially affected the outcome. In 1998, she won a second term, beating sitting California State Treasurer Matt Fong by 10.1% of the vote. After facing no primary opposition in the 2004 election, Boxer defeated GOP candidate Bill Jones, the former California Secretary of State, by a margin of 20 percentage points. In 2010, Boxer defeated GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, by a margin of 10 percentage points.
A member of the Senate Democratic Leadership, Boxer served as the Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, which gives her the job of lining up votes on key legislation.
The following is an incomplete list of legislation that Boxer introduced in the Senate.
On January 6, 2005, Boxer joined Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) in filing a U.S. Congressional objection to the certification of Ohio's Electoral College votes in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. She called the objection her "opening shot to be able to focus the light of truth on these terrible problems in the electoral system". The Senate voted the objection down 74–1; the House voted the objection down 267–31. It was only the second Congressional objection to an entire State's electoral delegation in U.S. history; the first instance was in 1877.
As a superdelegate, Boxer had declared that she would support the winner of the California primary, which was won by Hillary Clinton. However, she reneged on that pledge and remained neutral, only officially backing Barack Obama's candidacy the day after the last primaries, once he had garnered enough delegate votes to clinch the nomination.
Prior to Hillary Clinton's announcement, on October 20, 2013, Senator Boxer was one of sixteen Democratic female senators to sign a letter endorsing Clinton as the Democratic nominee in the 2016 Presidential Election.
During the confirmation hearings for the United States Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice in January 2005, Boxer challenged her to admit to alleged mistakes and false statements made by the Bush Administration in leading the United States into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and ultimately voted against confirmation, along with twelve other senators. The dissent was the highest vote against a Secretary of State nominee since 1825 when Henry Clay was so named.
Boxer voted against John Bolton's nomination for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and filibustered him on the Senate floor. As a result of the strong Democratic opposition Bolton could not obtain Senate approval. However, President Bush bypassed the Senate by employing the constitutional right of recess appointment, only the second time such an appointment has been used for a United States ambassador to the United Nations since the UN's founding in 1945. Recess appointments themselves have been used numerous times by various presidents.
Senators Boxer and John Ensign (R-NV) are the authors of the Invest in the USA Act. This legislation, which was signed into law in October 2004 as a small part of the more comprehensive American Jobs Creation Act, is intended to encourage American companies to bring overseas profits back to the United States, to create jobs in the U.S., and stimulate domestic economic growth.
In March 2004, Boxer offered an amendment to the Federal budget to create a $24 billion jobs reserve fund. The amendment would set aside funds for a variety of investments to improve the economy and create jobs by establishing a manufacturing jobs tax credit for companies that create jobs in the United States, expanding investment in science research and development, providing a tax credit to small businesses to pay for health insurance for their employees, and expanding trade adjustment assistance to help those who lose their jobs because of foreign trade. The Boxer amendment would also end the tax break that companies receive after moving plants overseas.
Senator Boxer further distinguished herself by being one of only eight members of the Senate to vote against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999.
Boxer established the Excellence in Education award to recognize teachers, parents, businesses and organizations that are working to make positive changes in education. Since 1997 Senator Boxer has presented the Excellence in Education Award to 38 recipients.
Boxer voted in support of the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which mandated the use of voting machines across the country, among other provisions. On February 18, 2005, Senator Boxer and colleges introduced the Count Every Vote Act of 2005, which would provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensure access to voter verification for all citizens. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The bill sets a uniform standard for provisional ballots and requires the Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to voting machines and trained election personnel in every community. The bill also mandated improved security measures for electronic voting machines. The bill did not pass.
Boxer opposed the nuclear energy deal between the United States and India. Boxer is of the opinion that India should not get help from the U.S. in the civilian nuclear energy sector until it breaks its relationship with Iran.
Boxer has introduced the National Oceans Protection Act (NOPA) of 2005. Some of the provisions of this act are: strengthen ocean governance; protect and restore marine wildlife and habitats; address ocean pollution; improve fisheries management. The bill also addresses needs regarding marine science, research and technology, marine mammals, coastal development, and invasive species.
Boxer is an original cosponsor of Senator Jim Jeffords' (I-VT) Clean Power Act. This legislation would reduce emissions of three pollutants coming from power plants; sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, and also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide .
As the new head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January 2007, Boxer wants to reduce energy consumption. She is attempting to curb global warming by leading pilot programs. The few things that she and some of her fellow Senators are doing could cut electricity consumption by as much as 50 percent in their Capitol Hill offices.
Senator Boxer was the Senate sponsor of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006. The bill protected 275,830 acres (1,116 km2) of federal land as wilderness and 21 miles (34 km) of stream as a wild and scenic river, including such popular areas as the King Range and Cache Creek. Senator Boxer worked with Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Thompson (the bill's House sponsor) in a five-year effort to pass the legislation.
Boxer along with her colleague Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of subsidy payments to conventional commodity farm producers at the cost of subsidies for conservation-oriented farming.
In 2002, Senator Boxer voted against the proposed US invasion of Iraq. She has subsequently referred to that vote as the best vote of her career. She also voted against the first Gulf War while a member of the House in 1991 and was a very vocal protester against the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
In October 2002, Boxer voted against the joint resolution passed by the US Congress to authorize the use of military force by the Bush Administration against Iraq. In June 2005, Senators Boxer and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, cosponsored Senate Resolution 171 calling for a timeframe for US troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Boxer's petition demanding an exit strategy from Iraq drew 107,218 signatures.
In the wake of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Boxer posted on Facebook that it was an "unspeakable tragedy." She offered thoughts and prayers to victims and their families, as well as "common sense gun safety laws to protect our communities from these weapons of war." She did not mention terrorism.
Boxer was part of a coalition to increase medical research to find cures for diseases. In 2007, she authored successful bipartisan legislation with Senator Gordon Smith to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis globally. In 1997, she authored a Patients' Bill of Rights. She has written a bill to make health insurance tax-deductible and one 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 re-imported from Canada.
In October 2002, Boxer urged the Bush Administration to take specific steps to address the causes of the steep increase in autism cases in California. She wrote Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson to establish a common national standard for the diagnosis of autism; instruct the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to convene a task force to review the current literature on autism and conduct its own study if necessary; and direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to work with the states to create a national chronic disease database.
In March 2010, Boxer voted to support the health care reform proposed by the Obama Administration and Democratic 111th Congress by voting yes on the Health Care Reconciliation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Human Rights Campaign gave Boxer ratings of 100%, 88% and 100% for the 107th, 108th, and 109th sessions of Congress, respectively, indicating a support of the HRC's slate of pro-gay rights legislative issues. In 1996, she was one of fourteen Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act and also voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006, although when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a directive to the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples she stated that she supported California's domestic partnership law but agreed with its definition that marriage was between a man and a woman. However, her 2010 re-election campaign website states that "Senator Boxer supports marriage equality." She opposed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage in California, and supported the Uniting American Families Act.
Senator Boxer has come out against reforming marijuana policy and is opposed to the California Ballot measure to legalize and tax marijuana for those 21 and older in the state.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Boxer authored a bill to protect commercial airliners against attacks by shoulder-fired missiles, and wrote the law allowing airline pilots with special training to carry guns in the cockpit.
Boxer wrote the High-Tech Port Security Act, and sponsored the Chemical Security Act to address terrorist threats against chemical plants. Senator Boxer also cosponsored comprehensive rail security legislation.
Boxer maintains a strong stance in support of reproductive rights and the pro-choice movement. 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.
Boxer is an original cosponsor of the Title X Family Planning Services Act of 2005, S.844, by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). This legislation aims to improve access to women's health care. It authorizes funding for family planning services grants; allows states to provide such services to individuals who may not be eligible for Medicaid; prohibits health insurance providers from excluding contraceptive services, drugs or devices from benefits; establishes a program to disseminate information on emergency contraception; requires hospitals receiving federal funding to offer emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault; provides grants to public and private entities to establish or expand teen pregnancy prevention programs; and requires that federally funded education programs about contraception be medically accurate and include information about health benefits and failure rates.
She was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which would prevent taxpayer-funded abortions possibly resulting in women not being able to pay with their own funds for abortion coverage Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Boxer supports the current system of Social Security, and opposed President George W. Bush's plan for partial privatization of Social Security. She introduced the 401(k) Pension Protection Act to protect retirement by requiring the diversification of 401(k) plans. A modified version of the bill was signed into law as part of the 1997 tax bill.
Following the Enron scandal, Boxer again worked to ensure that retirement plans are diversified. She also introduced a bill to prohibit accounting firms from auditing and consulting for the same company.
In June 2008 Boxer spoke in the Senate in opposition to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a pending bill in the United States Congress to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and later broke with her counterpart Sen. Dianne Feinstein and voted against it.
Boxer criticized then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's judgment in relation to the war in Iraq: "I personally believe – this is my personal view – that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth."
In January 2007, Boxer was in the news for comments she made when responding to Bush's plans to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq. "Who pays the price?" Boxer asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a personal price with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families... not me, not you." When Rice interjected, Boxer responded by saying, "Madam Secretary, please. I know you feel terrible about it. That's not the point. I was making the case as to who pays the price for your decisions. And the fact that this administration would move forward with this escalation with no clue as to the further price that we're going to pay militarily... I find really appalling."
Boxer has made cameo appearances as herself in several television shows, including Murphy Brown (1994), Gilmore Girls (2002) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (2007), as well as a cameo (as herself) in the 2000 film Traffic. On November 2, 2005, she made an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss her new novel A Time To Run.
In September 2012, it was reported that Boxer and soon-to-be-retired Republican Senator Olympia Snowe would appear together in an NBC sitcom. On September 20, 2012, she and Senator Snowe appeared in the fifth season premiere of Parks and Recreation. Boxer later returned to Parks and Recreation alongside several other U.S. senators in early 2015 in the seventh season episode "Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington."
In November 2016, Boxer appeared in an episode of Chelsea, presented by Chelsea Handler, entitled "Do Not Despair About Our Country", filmed shortly after the result of the 2016 US presidential election was known, during which Handler wept about the result.
The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service has accused Boxer of failing to disclose real property on her Personal Financial Disclosure Reports between 2002 and 2010. Boxer failed to disclose a million dollar home she owns.
|Office||Branch||Location||Elected||Term began||Term ended|
|Representative||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1982||January 3, 1983||January 3, 1985|
|Representative||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1984||January 3, 1985||January 3, 1987|
|Representative||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1986||January 3, 1987||January 3, 1989|
|Representative||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1988||January 3, 1989||January 3, 1991|
|Representative||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1990||January 3, 1991||January 3, 1993|
|Senator||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1992||January 3, 1993||January 3, 1999|
|Senator||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||1998||January 3, 1999||January 3, 2005|
|Senator||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||2004||January 3, 2005||January 3, 2011|
|Senator||Legislative||Washington, D.C.||2010||January 3, 2011||January 3, 2017|
|United States Congressional service|
|1983–1985||98th||U.S. House||Democratic||Ronald Reagan||Armed Services||District 6|
|1985–1987||99th||U.S. House||Democratic||Ronald Reagan||Armed Services||District 6|
|1987–1989||100th||U.S. House||Democratic||Ronald Reagan||Armed Services||District 6|
|1989–1991||101st||U.S. House||Democratic||George H. W. Bush||Armed Services||District 6|
|1991–1993||102nd||U.S. House||Democratic||George H. W. Bush||Armed Services||District 6|
|1993–1995||103rd||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Bill Clinton||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|1995–1997||104th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Bill Clinton||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|1997–1999||105th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Bill Clinton||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|1999–2001||106th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Bill Clinton||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2001–2003||107th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||George W. Bush||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2003–2005||108th||U.S. Senate||Republican||George W. Bush||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2005–2007||109th||U.S. Senate||Republican||George W. Bush||Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2007–2009||110th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||George W. Bush||Commerce, Environment (chair), Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2009–2011||111th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Barack Obama||Commerce, Environment (chair), Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2011–2013||112th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Barack Obama||Commerce, Environment (chair), Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2013–2014||113th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Barack Obama||Commerce, Environment (chair), Foreign Relations||Class 3|
|2015–2016||114th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Barack Obama||Environment (ranking), Ethics (ranking), Foreign Relations||Class 3|
Boxer was first elected to the Senate by a 4.9% margin in 1992. She was reelected in 1998, in 2004, and in 2010.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 6th congressional district
|Party political offices|
Les AuCoin, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, Robert Byrd, Tom Daschle, Bill Hefner, Barbara B. Kennelly, George Miller, Tip O'Neill, Paul Tsongas, Tim Wirth
|Response to the State of the Union address
Served alongside: Max Baucus, Joe Biden, David Boren, Robert Byrd, Dante Fascell, Bill Gray, Tom Harkin, Dee Huddleston, Carl Levin, Tip O'Neill, Claiborne Pell
|Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from California
1992, 1998, 2004, 2010
|Senate Democratic Chief Deputy Whip
|U.S. Senator (Class 3) from California
Served alongside: Dianne Feinstein
|Chair of the Senate Environment Committee
|Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
|Ranking Member of the Senate Environment Committee
|Ranking Member of the Senate Ethics Committee