Louise Slaughter, the first woman to head the Rules Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the oldest member of Congress, died on Friday at the age of 88.
Before she served in Congress, Slaughter served in the New York State Assembly from 1982 to 1986 and in the Monroe County Legislature between 1976 and 1979.
Slaughter's chief of staff Liam Fitzsimmons said she died at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Earlier this week, Slaughter fell at her home and sustained a concussion. She brought the grace and grit of her Southern background to her leadership in the Congress, building bridges and breaking down barriers all with her lovely accent.
But she is more likely to be remembered both for her legislative legacy and her feisty fight for progressive values, delivered on the House floor and in the Capitol hallways in a lilting drawl that echoed of her native Kentucky.
Among her greatest achievements was helping shepherd the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, during which she said she received a death threat and her district office window was smashed with a rock. She has a bachelor's degree in Classics and journalism from Hillsdale College in MI and a master's in professional writing from the University of Southern California.
Chuck Schumer said in a statement. Slaughter and her late husband, Robert, moved to Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, N.Y., in the 1950s, where they remained for the rest of their lives.
"I'm sending condolences to Congresswoman Slaughter's family and loved ones from all of us here - this is a huge loss of a truly kind and fierce woman", Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez tweeted.
".@LouiseSlaughter was tough, unfailingly gracious, and unrelenting in fighting for her ideas".
She and her were married for 57 years.
Slaughter's Rochester-area seat, redrawn in 2011 to re-elect her, is safely Democratic. "My honest condolences go out to her daughters and grandchildren and to the legions of people who loved and admired her". She was the co-chair and founding member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, which works to promote reproductive health and protect a woman's right to choose. "My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Slaughter family and the Congresswoman's many friends and colleagues". The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity.
Slaughter also co-authored the Violence Against Women Act, advocating for reauthorization campaigns and urging congressional Republicans to pass an extension that includes more protections.