Louise Slaughter, a trailblazing Democratic US lawmaker who rose to become the first female chair of the House Rules Committee, died Friday after suffering a concussion in a fall, her office announced.
She was 88.
Slaughter, who was first elected to Congress in 1986 in western New York, was the House’s oldest sitting member.
She used her background as a microbiologist to press for health legislation, but she was also instrumental on women’s issues, co-authoring the Violence Against Women Act, and wrote the legislation that bans insider trading.
Her role as Rules chair — and since the Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, as the committee’s senior Democrat — gave her immense power over the terms of debate on the House floor.
“It is difficult to find a segment of society that Louise didn’t help shape over the course of more than 30 years in Congress, from health care to genetic nondiscrimination to historic ethics reforms,” her chief of staff Liam Fitzsimmons said in a statement.
Under state law, New York’s governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, has discretion over when to call a special election.