- Former Democratic Senator from California
Born in Brooklyn, New York on November 11, 1940, Barbara Boxer graduated with a BA in economics from Brooklyn College in 1962. She subsequently worked as a stockbroker from 1962-65; a journalist and editor with the Pacific Sun Newspaper from 1972-74; and a congressional aide to Democratic U.S. Representative John Burton from 1974-76. Burton, who became Boxer’s political mentor, had ties to both the Communist Party USA, and the World Peace Council (a Soviet front).
From 1977-83, Boxer was a member of the Marin County, California board of supervisors. When Rep. Burton retired from Congress in 1982, Boxer, also a Democrat, was elected to his vacated House seat and held it until 1992.
In 1988 Boxer voted against the provision of U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan “Contras” who were trying to overthrow their country’s Marxist-Leninist Sandinista government. When the Sandinistas announced in October 1989 that they would no longer comply with a ceasefire agreement they had previously reached with the Contras, the House of Representatives voted 379-29 in favor of a resolution deploring the Sandinistas’ action; Boxer was one of the 29 Democrats who opposed the resolution.
During the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Boxer led a march on the Senate in support of law professor Anita Hill, who claimed that Thomas had sexually harassed her years earlier.
When U.S. Senator Alan Cranston (D-California) retired from public office in 1992, Boxer was elected to his vacated Senate seat and held it for the next 25 years.
In 1996 Boxer was one of just 24 senators to vote against that year’s Welfare Reform Act, which instituted, for the first time, work requirements for beneficiaries of America’s largest federal cash-assistance program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
In February 1997, Boxer read into the Senate record a tribute to “celebrate the life” of the recently deceased Carlton Goodlett, a leading Bay Area NAACP official and Communist Party USA member. Boxer described Goodlett as an “inspiration to many young Americans”; a “leader in the truest sense”; and a man who “will forever be treasured and missed.”
In October 1999 and October 2002, Boxer voted against proposals to prohibit partial birth abortion in all cases except those where the life of the mother was endangered by the pregnancy.
In April 2002, Boxer, who at the time was serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Fidel Castro‘s Cuba to discuss “California trade.” The trip was paid for by the Center for International Policy, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.
In October 2002, Boxer was one of 23 U.S. Senators to oppose the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.
In December 2004, Boxer—along with Senator Raul Grijalva, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Rep. Henry Waxman—provided a diplomatic courtesy letter for Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, and several other antiwar activists who wished to deliver a combined $600,000 in medical supplies and cash to the families of the terrorist insurgents who were fighting American troops in Fallujah, Iraq. The organizations sponsoring the delegation were Code Pink, Global Exchange, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Project Guerrero Azteca for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, and Voices in the Wilderness.
In early 2007, Boxer opposed President Bush’s decision to deploy a “surge” of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. Aiming to “make it abundantly clear to our leaders that we oppose the war,” Boxer said “the best way to support the troops is to fully fund their return home as well as … programs that deal with the psychological and medical fallout of the folly of sending them to Iraq.” In December of that year, Boxer was one of only 24 senators to vote in favor of a proposal to end the surge promptly and bring the troops home. Ultimately the surge proved to be hugely successful, enabling the U.S. to emerge victorious in the war.
In September 2007 Boxer voted in favor of a bill that would have restored the right of terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay to obtain a writ of habeas corpus, and hence access to American courts.
During the healthcare-reform debates of 2009, Boxer complained that the so-called Nelson Amendment—a proposal to ensure that no federal funds would be used to pay for abortion—discriminated against women. Said Boxer: “The men who have brought us this [amendment] don’t single out a procedure that’s used by a man, or a drug that is used by a man, that involves his reproductive health care, and say they [men] have to get a special rider. There’s nothing in this amendment that says if a man someday wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it, that he has to buy a rider. I wouldn’t support that. And they shouldn’t support going after a woman, using her own private funds for her reproductive health care.”
In October 2012 Boxer denounced the anti-voter-fraud group True The Vote, which had petitioned election officials across the U.S. to review questionable and duplicate voter registrations, and to remove the names of deceased or otherwise ineligible voters from the rolls. Said Boxer: “I don’t believe this is ‘True the Vote.’ I believe it’s ‘Stop the Vote.’” Asking the Department of Justice to “protect Americans from voter intimidation,” the senator stated: “No group can be allowed to intimidate or interfere with this fundamental right that is essential for American democracy.”
In August 2013 Boxer called for raising the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour. “That will make a huge difference,” she said. “… People are struggling. The difference between the very wealthy and the working poor has grown.”
That same month, Boxer claimed that a series of large wildfires which at that time were ravaging parts of California, served as evidence that “climate change is taking a toll.” Further, she exhorted “the deniers in Congress” to “open your eyes, breathe the air, and see what’s going on.”
In the summer of 2015, Boxer supported the nuclear deal that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. Boxer had previously received financial support from the Iranian American Political Action Committee.
A week after Hillary Clinton had lost the 2016 presidential election to Republican Donald Trump despite having won the popular vote nationwide, Boxer introduced legislation aimed at abolishing the Electoral College. Said the senator: “In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote. The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.”
Boxer retired from the U.S. Senate in January 2017.
For an overview of Boxer’s Senate voting record on a number of key issues, click here.
In September 2018, Boxer reacted strongly when she watched President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, become indignant at Democratic Senators who characterized him as unqualified for the Court because of uncorroborated testimony by a woman claiming that Kavanaugh had tried to sexually assault her 36 years earlier when he was in high school. Said Boxer:
“It was an exhausting day for everybody and especially for women who have had this experience and for women who have had relationships with very angry men. All of a sudden we see a man transformed from a choir boy who, up to now, has said, after hours in front of the committee, he lived this very perfect life, all of a sudden his anger is triggered and what we saw today is someone who you could now see attacking a woman…. It’s very frightening. This guy not only showed this belligerent anger, but he had like a personality transformation.”
For additional information on Barbara Boxer, click here.
- “John Burton” (Keywiki.org)
- “Boxer, Kerry Launch Campaign to Pass Senate Cap-And-Trade Bill” (NY Times, 9-30-2009).
Further Reading: “Barbara Boxer” (Votesmart.org, Keywiki.org, Ballotpedia.org, Britannica.com); “The Extremism of Barbara Boxer” (American Thinker, 10-24-2010); “Boxer: Nelson Amendment Wouldn’t Require Men To Purchase Riders For Viagra” (Huffington Post, 3-18-2010); “True The Vote, Tea Party Voting Group, Targeted By Congressional Inquiry” (Huffington Post, 10-5-2012); “Sen. Boxer: Raise Minimum Wage to $10 an Hour” (Breitbart.com, 8-27-2013); “Barbara Boxer Links California Wildfires to Climate Change” (Breitbart.com, 8-9-2013); “Sen. Barbara Boxer to Introduce Bill to End Electoral College” (CNN.com, 11-15-2016); “Former Senator Barbara Boxer: Kavanaugh Looked Like Someone Who Could Attack a Woman” (Washington Free Beacon, 9-28-2018).