Rep. Louise Slaughter dead: Longtime congresswoman from Upstate NY was 88

Rep. Louise Slaughter dies at age 88

She was the oldest sitting member of Congress and the first and only woman to lead the House Rules Committee, according to The Washington Post.

The eldest member of Congress at age 88, Slaughter had been hospitalized for a concussion she received Wednesday.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, a Rochester-area Democrat who represented parts of Buffalo for a decade and who left a legislative legacy on issues ranging from health care to government ethics, died early Friday at George Washington University Hospital.

"She truly epitomized what a public servant is", said Robert Duffy, the city's former mayor and state's former lieutenant governor, now president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Louise was a fearless leader, deeply committed to her constituents, and a dear friend. Throughout her tenure in Congress, Slaughter was best known as one of the original authors of 1994's Violence Against Women Act. The announcement of her death came just a day after Fitzsimmons backed Slaughter to make a recovery, calling her as "tough as nails".

Slaughter retained her Southern accent long after her move from Kentucky.

"Louise worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of those in the Rochester region and Western New York", Reed said.

An aggressive politician who was not afraid to butt heads with other lawmakers, Slaughter nonetheless won the respect of her colleagues with her hard work and her persistence. "May it be a source of comfort to Louise's three daughters, Megan, Amy and Emily, and her beloved grandchildren and great-grandchild, that so many around the country mourn with them".

At the end of February, Slaughter launched her reelection campaign for a 17th term in office.

It took 14 years for Slaughter to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which bans carriers and employers from using a person's family medical history showing hereditary illness to hire or fire. "I had a lot of women tell me their husbands just couldn't vote for me", she told USA Today in 2007.

In his statement, Senate Minority Leader and fellow New Yorker Charles Schumer called Slaughter a "giant". Redistricting in 2012 dramatically altered Slaughter's district, fueling speculation that she might retire. Using an idiom she may have drawn from her upbringing in Kentucky, she replied calmly, "I appreciate that you're the bluebird of happiness".

"Her tireless leadership was invaluable to passing legislation to expand access to affordable, high-quality health care and to help young people climb the ladders of opportunity with a good education".

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