The oldest sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives died this week following a recent hospitalization for injuries associated with a fall, according to reports.
Politico reported that Rep. Louise Slaughter died surrounded by loved ones early Friday morning at George Washington University Hospital.
The New York Democrat, who was serving her 16th term in Congress, earned a reputation among supporters as a champion of women’s issues during a career that spanned more than three decades in elected office.
In recent years, Slaughter has described her efforts to reshape women’s health care as among her proudest achievements.
Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff, described Slaughter as a “force of nature” in a statement announcing the 88-year-old’s death.
Flags on Capitol Hill were lowered to half-mast Friday in response, according to an order from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The news brought condolences from both sides of the aisle in Congress.
Ryan called Slaughter “simply great,” adding that she was “unrelenting in fighting for her ideas and the people back home in Western New York.”
Though they often disagreed politically, Paul said he will remember “how she was tough, but unfailingly gracious.”
As CNN reported, a number of her close Democratic allies, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, released statements emphasizing her influence within the party.
Among the accomplishments for which she has received praise from her party are her efforts to advance the Obamacare legislation and her work on behalf of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
Fitzsimmons further emphasized her legislative achievements in his 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.”
Pelosi wrote that the “Congressional community has lost a beloved leader and a cherished friend.”
The California congresswoman’s statement was one of several from Democratic leaders to use the term “heartbroken” in describing the reaction to hearing of Slaughter’s death.
Pelosi went on to say that the veteran congresswoman’s “strong example inspired countless young women to know their power, and seek their rightful place at the head of the decision-making table.”
Slaughter and her husband, Bob, were married for 57 years until his death in 2014.
Born in Kentucky, she moved with her husband to New York after graduating from the University of Kentucky.
The couple lived in Fairport and had three daughters, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
As the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is tasked with calling for a special election that would fill the seat until her current term ends at the end of this year.
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