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political notebook

Waxman to retire from Congress

Representative Henry Waxman.

AP/file 2012

Representative Henry Waxman.

WASHINGTON — Representative Henry Waxman, one of Congress’ fiercest negotiators and a policy expert on everything from clean air to health care, will retire at the end of the year after four decades in the House.

‘‘It’s time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark,’’ the liberal California Democrat said Thursday in a statement announcing that he will not seek reelection.

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Democrats and some Republicans saluted Waxman for the breadth of his work, from policy to good government and more.

‘‘Henry will leave behind a legacy as an extraordinary public servant and one of the most accomplished legislators of his or any era,’’ President Obama said in a statement.

In a statement, Waxman, 74, condemned conservative House Republicans elected in 2010. ‘‘I abhor the extremism of the Tea Party,’’ he said.


Obama may free inmates in low-level drug cases

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, in its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases, is taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president may let out of prison early.

Speaking at a New York State Bar Association event , Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said the Justice Department wanted to send more names to the White House for clemency consideration.

The clemency drive is an effort to undo sentencing discrepancies that began with the crack epidemic decades ago. Offenses involving crack carried more severe penalties than crimes involving powder cocaine, which was usually favored by affluent white users.

Congress eliminated the sentencing disparity in 2010.


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