California Sen. Barbara Boxer says farewell to Washington DC

File: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delivers remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
File: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delivers remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Barbara Boxer gave her farewell speech after 24 years in the United States Senate. She reflected on her accomplishments and struggles as a woman, both during her time in Washington and the years she served in local government. She talked about her work on the environment, successful bipartisan collaborations and Hillary Clinton's loss in the presidential election.

Boxer's seat is being filled by former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who she also spoke about. 

Watch the full archived video of her speech: 


Speech highlights

On being a woman politician

Were there frustrations? Yes. Were there disappointments? Yes. Were there defeats? Yes, many. But every morning when I woke up, I knew I had a chance to do something good. And as a first-generation American on my mother's side, and most particularly as a woman, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I could be in the United States Senate. It was an uphill battle, and I know I speak for a lot of people sitting right here who know what I’m talking about.

When I first ran for the Marin County Board of Supervisors in 1972, it was a Republican landslide year. It was more than tough. I'll never forget one woman I spoke with after knocking on her door, I introduced myself and said, “Hi, I’m Barbara Boxer, I’m running for county supervisor.” She greeted me by saying, "I never thought you'd be so short." And then she said she wasn't supporting me. To quote her, because, "You have four kids and you're going to neglect them if you're elected." Well never mind this was a part-time job, just a few minutes from the house. Never mind the man I was running against had a family and a full-time job. And never mind that I actually had two kids. But she insisted, Nancy, she said, "I know you have four kids because I read it in the newspaper." I said, “Lady, when you give birth, you never l forget it.”

On regrets as she leaves office

This is one of my biggest regrets: how far the parties have grown apart. Especially when it comes to the environment. Remember, Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. He signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. George H.W. Bush signed the extension of the Clean Air Act and many Republicans led the charge for environmental protection. But now, unfortunately, protecting the environment has become a divide where we truly duke it out. As I leave here, I intend to do everything in my power to work to bridge that divide, because we all live on one planet. Doesn't matter what party we are. We all breathe the same air. We all want our families to be healthy and live on a planet that can sustain us and all of God's creation.

Addressing her successor, Kamala Harris

I am, of course, ecstatic that my successor is Kamala Harris, who has served as attorney general in my state with great distinction and who will continue the tradition of having a strong, progressive woman in this seat. Kamala, you heard it here — a strong, progressive woman in this seat is what we need.

On her feelings about Hillary Clinton

As I wind down my remarks, I must be completely honest about my broken heart. I worked hard along with so many millions of Americans so that we would have our first female president. It was not to be this time,but we made history with Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party who, I might add, won the popular vote by millions and still counting. She truly shattered the glass ceiling and showed that women have the ability to take it on the chin again and again. My message to everyone who supported Hillary is the work goes on.

On her most memorable achievements

When I look back on everything I fought for, there are more than a thousand accomplishments, and I am certainly not going to talk about all of those, but I’m going to briefly, very fast go through 10 of my favorites. The first after-school programs that got funded by the federal government covering more than 1.6 million kids every day. A million acres of California wilderness preserved. The first-ever comprehensive combat casualty care center in California for our most wounded warriors. Ensuring that our transportation programs remain in place for years to come with millions of jobs protected. Upholding our landmark environmental laws, and I hope that continues. Setting clean drinking water standards to protect pregnant women, children and other vulnerable people. The dolphin safe tuna label. Protecting victims of rape in the military from irrelevant harassing questions that had already been barred in civilian courts. Establishing the first-ever subcommittee to oversee global women's issues, which Jeanne [Shaheen] is going to carry on. Recommending a diverse group of extremely qualified judicial nominees who are carrying out our laws in California’s federal courts.

On what she leaves behind

Of course, there's unfinished business, and I know my colleagues are going to carry it out. We have to restore the Voting Rights Act. We need to restore trust between our communities and law enforcement. We have to continue to protect and provide affordable health care. We must take action on climate change, or we are in deep trouble as humankind. We must protect the Dreamers and immigrants who contribute to our communities every day. We must raise the minimum wage and ensure equal pay for equal work. We must protect reproductive freedom and work across party lines for a safe world.