New York congresswoman Louise Slaughter dies after fall at her home

Posted March 17, 2018

"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.

Louise Slaughter (D) died at the age of 88 after a fall that prompted her hospitalization.

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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.

"Louise was a fearless leader, deeply committed to her constituents, and a dear friend", Republican Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman, said in a statement "I have had the huge privilege of working side by side with her for the past 20 years". She was the oldest member in the House.

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A microbiologist by training, Slaughter fretted for years that as science progressed and the human genome was decoded, average people would find themselves discriminated against if they had genetic markers that indicated they would be likely to get cancer or another grave illness.

A microbiologist with a master's degree in public health, Slaughter moved to western NY with her husband in the 1950s and entered politics two decades later, after fighting to preserve a stand of beech-maple forest near their home in the Rochester suburbs. She also fought for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and passage of hate crimes protections, was an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act, and a longtime member of the LGBT Equality Caucus. Using an idiom she may have drawn from her upbringing in Kentucky, she replied calmly, "I appreciate that you're the bluebird of happiness". The bill, which requires lawmakers to quickly discuss their stock trades, led to revelations about Rep. Chris Collins' investment in Innate Immunotherapeutics, now the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation. She remained nonchalant, however, even while inspiring Republican rage over a short-lived proposal known as "the Slaughter Strategy", in which she considered passing the Senate version of Obamacare without an up-or-down vote - a tactic, she noted, that her Republican colleagues had sometimes used themselves. Her commitment to public service was extraordinary, serving 47 years in elected office, including 32 years in Congress. This was one major step in her long history as a major congressional leader in health policy who focused on overlooked or marginalized people and issues.

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EXTRA: Rep. Louise Slaughter: How will her successor be chosen? In doing so, he hailed her as "a force of nature" and a "relentless advocate" for the area of Western New York, including Rochester, which she served from 1987 to 2018. She grappled with politically hard policies and pushed them, often for years, until they became law.