The Congresswoman's Chief of Staff, Liam Fitzsimmons, said Ms. Slaughter passed away early Friday morning surrounded by family at George Washington University Hospital. But she was repeatedly re-elected -including a narrow victory in 2014 - and was the longest-serving member of Congress from NY when she died.
Her progressive legacy in Congress ranges from landmark government ethics legislation to health care and historic legislation to prevent discrimination. Her loss will be deeply felt.
At age 88, she was the oldest sitting member of Congress.
First elected to Congress in 1986, Slaughter represented a series of Western New York districts over the years, rising over time to be a leading liberal voice in the House and a confidant to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. However, Slaughter did break ranks with her fellow Democrats on a number of issues, specifically with her vote against the North America Free Trade Agreement.
She studied at the University of Kentucky, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's in 1953, and was working in Texas when she met Robert Slaughter at a motel pool.
"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. She believed clean air and clean water for future generations was a critical fight, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to work closely with her for the last decade on legislation to help guarantee that basic right. Using an idiom she may have drawn from her upbringing in Kentucky, she replied calmly, "I appreciate that you're the bluebird of happiness".
"Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was a giant", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat. She was predeceased by her husband, Bob, in 2014.
Slaughter's Rochester-area seat, redrawn in 2011 to re-elect her, is safely Democratic. Her efforts to fix the medical research imbalance that emphasized clinical trials on diseases that affect white men rather than those that hit women and minorities disproportionately led to the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993. Her family, friends, and staff are in my thoughts and prayers. "Throughout her entire career, Louise worked with people from so many different philosophies and backgrounds, because she was such a genuine human spirit".
Slaughter advocated for women's access to abortion, co-authored a landmark domestic abuse law, and broke with Democrats when she criticized global trade's impacts on labor. The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity.