Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr Biography » Bill Richardson: 1947—: Politician Biography - Gave Up Baseball For Political Science, Began Career In Politics, Won Congressional Seat, Had Long Career In Congress

Bill Richardson: 1947—: Politician - Had Long Career In Congress

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As a member of Congress, Richardson served on numerous committees. In 1983 he was appointed to a coveted seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he worked as a strong proponent of increased natural gas use and had a significant role in 1990 of strengthening the environmental regulations outlined in the Clean Air Act. Other committee assignments included the Resource Committee on National Parks, Forests, and Lands, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Helsinki Committee. In 1985 Richardson was elected as the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but controversy ensued after he supported immigration legislation that was opposed by most of the House's Hispanic members, leading to Richardson's resignation of the chairman-ship. In 1993 he was named chairman of the Native American Affairs Committee, where he introduced some two dozen bills to improve health care and job training services to the Native American population.

During the 1988 presidential election, Richardson traveled widely to campaign for Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. Although Dukakis' bid was unsuccessful, Richardson was given credit for a higher-than-average Hispanic turnout in the areas where he campaigned. In 1992 there was talk that Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton, a friend of Richardson, might tag the Congressman for the vice presidential spot. Although the rumors did not play out, Richardson earned a leadership role in Congress as one of four chief deputy Democratic whips following Clinton's election to the presidency.

During his years in Congress, Richardson pushed consistently for a trade agreement with Mexico. In 1992 debate began regarding the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Richardson quickly emerged as one of the agreement's most vocal proponents. Debate was heated, and Richardson proved instrumental in working with President Clinton to drum up sufficient support to ensure its passage. When NAFTA was passed in 1994, it created the world's largest tariff-free zone that spanned Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

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