WASHINGTON, DC, January 9, 2015 (ENS) – Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, said Thursday that she will not seek reelection after her fourth term in the U.S. Senate concludes in 2016.

Boxer made the announcement in a video co-starring her eldest grandson, Zach Rodham, who played the role of reporter.

Boxer and Rodham

Senator Barbara Boxer, left, speaks with her grandson Zach Rodham, who is also a nephew of Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Screengrab from video courtesy Senator Boxer)

Boxer said she is not retiring, that she will continue to work on the issues that she cares about – helping middle-class families, protecting a woman’s right to choose, environmental safeguards, and electing “progressive” Democrats, but she will do so in a non-elected position.

“I want to go home to California,” Boxer told Rodham in the video.

Boxer, 74, said age was not a factor in her decision because, “some people are old at 40 and some people are young at 80…”

Boxer has served in Congress for the past 32 years. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years from 1983; in 1992 she won election to the U.S. Senate.

President Barack Obama called Boxer Thursday to thank her for her long and illustrious service. After the call, he said, “Barbara Boxer is more than a Senator – she’s an institution. She’s served the people of California for more than three decades with distinction, fighting for the issues that are close to their homes and hearts. Thanks to Barbara, more Americans breathe clean air and drink clean water. More women have access to healthcare. More children have safe places to go after school. More public lands have been protected for future generations. More Americans travel on safe roads and bridges. And more young women have been inspired to achieve their biggest dreams, having Barbara as an incredible role model.”

In the Senate, Boxer successfully led the 2003 Senate floor battle to block oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2005, Boxer voted again to block oil drilling in the Refuge.

Boxer introduced the National Oceans Protection Act of 2005 to strengthen ocean governance; protect and restore marine wildlife and habitats; address ocean pollution; and improve fisheries management.

Boxer was an original cosponsor of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords’ Clean Power Act to reduce emissions of three pollutants coming from power plants; sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, and also reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

As chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee from January 2007, Boxer attempted to curb global warming, and she cut electricity consumption by half in her Capitol Hill office.

Boxer

Senator Barbara Boxer announces that she will not seek re-election in 2016 (Screengrab from video courtesy Senator Boxer)

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 protects 275,830 acres of federal land as wilderness and 21 miles of stream as a wild and scenic river.

Vice President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate with her for decades, Thursday called Boxer his “soul mate in the Senate…”

“The Senate is losing a passionate voice, and a great leader in the environmental movement,” said Biden. “She had the vision to promote a green economy, and she was one of the first to press for a cap on carbon emissions.”

“It was a particular honor to work with her on the Violence Against Women Act,” Biden said. “You always knew in the Senate if you had Barbara on your side, you didn’t need much more. I am sorry to see her go, but there are still two years left. And two years of Barbara Boxer is like having four to six years of any other Senator. She’s been a great Senator, and an even better friend.”

California Governor Jerry Brown said, “Senator Boxer has been a forceful advocate for the people of California. She’s brought verve and imagination to the Senate. There’s still much to do, and I look forward to working closely with her, particularly on issues related to climate change.”

Environmental groups expressed their admiration for Boxer.

Annie Notthoff, California advocacy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “Senator Boxer has been a fierce champion of our health and our environment during her years in both the House and the Senate, and all Americans are better off because of her distinguished service. And we will continue working with her to her last day in Congress – and then beyond, since she made clear today her determination to keep on championing public health and environmental protection after leaving the Senate.”

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, said, “For more than three decades Senator Barbara Boxer has been a courageous and outspoken leader for environmental protections. From her three-day filibuster in 1994 to stop the rollback of environmental laws, through her tenure as the influential chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer has always been at the forefront of battles for climate action, clean air and clean water.”

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