Louise Slaughter, 16-Term House Democrat From N.Y., Dies at 88

(Bloomberg) -- Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, died early Friday after suffering an injury at her Washington home last week, her office said in a statement. She was 88.

Slaughter became the first woman to chair the Rules panel when Democrats controlled the House from 2007 to 2011, and is widely known as one of Congress’ most influential champions of women’s rights. She was first elected to Congress in 1986, representing the Rochester area, and previously served in the New York State Assembly.

As Rules Committee chairwoman, Slaughter ushered the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation measure to the House floor.

"Millions more Americans have health care because of Louise’s skillful and effective leadership," said Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the No. 2 Democrat on the Rules Committee.

She authored the 2012 Stock Act, which prohibited the use of inside information for private profit by members of Congress and public employees, and expanded disclosure of financial holdings. She also coauthored the Violence Against Women Act and was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Wit Amid Battles

Speaking with a syrupy southern accent that showed her Kentucky roots, she was known for her wit and ability to engage in fierce political battles with Republicans in one moment, and laugh and joke with her antagonist the next.

Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, called Slaughter a "fearless leader" in a statement that said he always "considered her a partner."

"I will always cherish our friendship, comradery, and of course her rhubarb pie," Sessions said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement that she was "heartbroken" by Slaughter’s death, praising her "unwavering commitment to working families."

"Her strong example inspired countless young women to know their power, and seek their rightful place at the head of the decision-making table," Pelosi said.

Born in Harlan County, Kentucky, the daughter of a blacksmith, Slaughter moved after college with her late husband, Bob, to upstate New York. A microbiologist, she worked in Congress to restrict the use of antibiotics in healthy cattle. She also was a former blues and jazz singer.

Pelosi’s office said the question of who will take the top Democratic spot on the Rules panel will be addressed later.

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