Rep. Louise Slaughter remembered as a 'trailblazer,' 'tireless voice for women' by her colleagues

Rep. Louise Slaughter's mark on Congress was evident, as staff and colleagues on both sides of the aisle remembered the longest-serving member of Congress from New York after news of her death broke on March 16.

Slaughter, a Democrat, died at the age of 88 after being hospitalized with a concussion, Fox News confirmed. She had served in Congress since 1987.

Slaughter's funeral on March 23 will be held at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, New York. Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Georgia Congressman John Lewis and more than 40 members of Congress are slated to attend.

Her funeral will be a "fitting celebration of a truly remarkable person," a top aide to the late Congresswoman said.

The first female chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, Slaughter co-authored the Violence Against Women Act, was a founding member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus and authored the STOCK Act, a 2012 law that prohibited insider trading in Congress.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., was remembered as a "trailblazer" and role model for women by her colleagues after her death.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., was remembered as a "trailblazer" and role model for women by her colleagues after her death. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Lawmakers and staff members shared statements and took to social media to share memories of Slaughter – as a colleague and a friend.

“To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature,” Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff, said in a statement. “It is difficult to find a segment of society that Louise didn’t help shape over the course of more than thirty years in Congress, from health care to genetic nondiscrimination to historic ethics reforms.”

“Her strong example inspired countless young women to know their power, and seek their rightful place at the head of the decision-making table.”

— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., remembered Slaughter as a “trailblazer” who used her positions to “fight for women and working families in New York and across the country.”

“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.

“Her tireless leadership was invaluable to passing legislation to expand access to affordable, high-quality health care and to help young people climb the ladders of opportunity with a good education,” Pelosi continued. “She made it her mission to help every man and woman chase their American Dream.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Slaughter was “a giant.”

“She had deep convictions – on both issues important to the people of Rochester, and for the integrity and honesty of the political system,” he said in a statement. “Throughout her entire career, Louise worked with people from so many different philosophies and backgrounds, because she was such a genuine human spirit. The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity.”

Schumer continued, “Her passing will leave a gaping hole in our hearts and our nation.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said flags at the Capitol would be lowered to half-staff in her memory, calling her death "jarring."

Slaughter "was tough, unfailingly gracious, and unrelenting in fighting for her ideas," Ryan said. "She was simply great."

"Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history," Ryan also said.

"Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history."

— House Speaker Paul Ryan

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said his friendship with Slaughter “went beyond politics,” especially as she counseled him during a “recent, deep personal loss.” Newhouse’s wife passed away in May just before their anniversary.

“You could not find a sharper mind than Louise Slaughter,” remembered Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., on social media. “She was a truly great leader and I was honored to serve alongside her. Louise was a pioneer and a tireless voice for women.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said she served with Slaughter on the House Rules Committee.

“I knew her to be a tough-as-nails role model and extraordinary communicator,” Pingree said. “She was the House’s biggest champion against antibiotic misuse and a tireless fighter for the arts.”

In a series of tweets, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., remembered Slaughter as “amazing, sharp-tongued yet charming and brilliant.”

“Her quick with and Southern drawl were irresistible,” Speier said, adding that she hopes Slaughter’s family “can take some small comfort in knowing the legacy Louise leaves behind will live on for generations to come.”

“As we talked over dinner so many times, she would regale us with sure fire quips and clear eyed commentary about the political world,” Speier recalled. “Louise knew fake when she saw it and was not afraid to call it out. She knew truth when she saw it and stood strong in its defense. I loved her so.”

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., said Slaughter was her mentor and a “dear friend” to her mother.

“She was a trailblazer for women lawmakers and will be truly missed,” she said.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said she "always felt so warmly welcomed by [Slaughter] and her entire staff."

"Louise has served our state for over three decades, and has been a role model to many women Members, including myself," Stefanik said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time."

Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from New York, said it was “an honor to serve in the House with” Slaughter throughout the years. He added that the congresswoman will “be missed.”

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said on social media that she “always enjoyed our spirited debates” and praised Slaughter for having “fought for what she believed in.”

“Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was loved by the God who made her and respected by her colleagues,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said in a statement. “We worked on different sides of the aisle, but kindness and dignity characterized every piece of our friendship.”

“We worked on different sides of the aisle, but kindness and dignity characterized every piece of our friendship.”

— Rep. Doug Collins

Collins added that had always enjoyed Slaughter’s homemade rhubarb pie.

A Republican representing Alabama, Rep. Bradley Byrne noted Slaughter’s significance as the first female chair and ranking member of the House Rules Committee. He said she would “be remembered for her effectiveness [and] passion for her constituents [and] the many causes she believed in.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, said in a tweet that Slaughter was "a champion for New York who had a larger than life presence in Rochester area politics."

"She was trailblazer, a partner and friend ever since we worked together for my father more than four decades ago," the governor said.

New York Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman praised Slaughter's "deep knowledge of policy and profound commitment to her community."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren called Slaughter "the embodiment of leadership and tireless advocacy for her constituents."

"The citizens of Rochester, along with women and minorities across our entire country, have lost a voice in Washington. But the legacy of Louise Slaughter is truly enduring and I am confident her accomplishments will benefit our city and nation for generations to come," she said in a statement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden remembered working with Slaughter on the Violence Against Women Act when he was a senator. He called the late congresswoman an "unparalleled champion for women."

"I will always remember her grit and determination in standing up for women and families every day," Biden said. "She will be greatly missed."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.