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Veteran New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter dies at 88

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference on March 25, 2014.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Veteran New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter died Friday, days after falling in her residence, her top aide said. The 88-year-old lawmaker had been the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and was her party’s top member on the panel when she died.

Slaughter died at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, said Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff, a week after a fall in which she’d sustained a concussion.

Slaughter was serving her 16th term in the House, and her 31 years in the chamber made her its third-longest-serving woman, according to the official House website. She chaired the Rules Committee from 2007 through 2010.

Slaughter had a degree in microbiology and was originally from Harlan County, Ky., and her soft, twangy accent always seemed out of place for someone representing a district around Rochester, N.Y. But she was repeatedly reelected — including a narrow victory in 2014 — and was the longest-serving member of Congress from New York when she died.

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“Louise never forgot her roots as the daughter of a Kentucky blacksmith,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “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 beautiful accent. Louise could be fiercely debating on the floor in the morning, and singing in harmony with her colleagues across the aisle in the evening.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called Slaughter “a giant in the people’s House” and said she was “unrelenting” in working for her ideals and constituents. “Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history,” Ryan said.

Slaughter was the chief force behind a 2012 law to ban insider stock trading based on congressional knowledge and require disclosure of market activities by lawmakers. She also helped write the Violence Against Women Act and a 2008 law designed to protect people with genetic predispositions to health conditions from facing discrimination from their employers or health insurance companies.

Her death creates a vacancy at the top of the Democratic side of the Rules Committee, which sets the terms of House floor debates. It’s likely to be filled by Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

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UPDATES:

9:40 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details and comments from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

This article was originally published at 8:05 a.m.


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