EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In less than two weeks, Congressman Jim Langevin will be retiring after more than 20 years in Washington.
He announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection after 11 terms in office.
“Well, it was one of the hardest decisions of my life. But after 22 years of living in two places at the same time and all of the travel back and forth I decided that I wanted to stay closer to home and have a better work/life balance and not be running myself into the ground all of the time. It’s an amazing job but it’s like drinking from a fire hose, every day, and I want to do something while I’m still young enough and healthy enough,” he explained.
Langevin is the first quadriplegic ever to be elected to Congress. He was paralyzed in an accidental shooting when he was 16 years old while working at a Boy Scout program with the Warwick Police Department in 1980.
In the wake of the accident, Langevin previously said the community was there for him when he needed it most, along with his family. It’s what inspired him to run for Congress, as a way of giving back.
He championed a lot of causes to make improvements for accessibility not only in Washington but also nationwide.
“First of all, the Americans With Disabilities Act made a profound difference in my life. It was enacted 10 years after my accident and it really facilitated my being able to serve in Congress, to make the lives of people with disabilities better,” he said.
“It was something I am very proud of, including the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, that set out rights and protections for people with disabilities as they’re traveling on airlines. I, again, do it every week and I know the challenges of traveling with a wheelchair, traveling with a disability, and at least wanting to give more protections for people with disabilities and I’m proud that we’ve been able to do that,” he continued.
Over two decades, he said one of his proudest moments was being able to preside over the United States House of Representatives as the first member of Congress in a wheelchair.
“On the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act,” he recalled. “It was such an amazing moment that I’ll never forget, but I also know we broke a glass ceiling and it wasn’t about me it was about all of those people out there that have disabilities or challenges in their lives to recognize that all things are possible.”
Langevin will be succeeded by Seth Magaziner.