Rep. Louise Slaughter, Political 'Giant' and Trailblazer, Dies at 88

Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democratic lawmaker considered a trailblazer for women in politics, died on Friday. She was 88.
louise.house.gov

Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democratic lawmaker considered a trailblazer for women in politics, died on Friday. She was 88.

Slaughter, who most recently represented New York’s 25th District, suffered a fall near her D.C. home last week and was hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital.

Regarded as a "giant" in the political world, Slaughter was the first female chair of the House Rules Committee and one of the longest-serving Democrats in Congress.

"She was a relentless fighter for families in Monroe County and across the nation," her office said in a statement. 

Among her many accomplishments, Slaughter authored the landmark Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), protecting individuals from genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment, and the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which was designed to combat insider trading. 

Slaughter also served as the dean of the New York congressional delegation, serving her 16th term in Congress.

“To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature,” Liam Fitzsimmons, Slaughter’s chief of staff, said in a statement. ”She was a relentless advocate for Western New York whose visionary leadership brought infrastructure upgrades, technology and research investments, and two federal manufacturing institutes to Rochester that will transform the local economy for generations to come."

Slaughter was born in Harlan County, Ky., and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and a Master of Science degree in public health.

After graduate school, she and her husband, Robert “Bob” Slaughter, moved to the village of Fairport, N.Y. Together they had three daughters, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

They were married for 57 years, until Bob Slaughter’s death in 2014.

She was elected to Congress in 1986 after having served in the New York State Assembly for four years and the Monroe County Legislature for three years before that. 

“While holding elected office, she was regional coordinator to Gov. Mario Cuomo from 1976 to 1978 while he served as secretary of state and from 1979 to 1982 while he served as lieutenant governor,” her office said.

As the news of her passing broke, countless elected officials on both sides of the political aisle took to social media to offer their condolences and praise of Slaughter.

“It was my great privilege to serve with Rep. @LouiseSlaughter and to benefit from her friendship and wise counsel for 30 years,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted. “Her loss will be deeply felt. May it be a comfort to her family to know that so many around the country mourn with them."

“.@LouiseSlaughter was tough, unfailingly gracious, and unrelenting in fighting for her ideas. She was simply great,” Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted.

In her memory, Ryan ordered the flags above the capitol be lowered to half-staff.

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