In a political career that spanned decades, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) served as the backbone in her Rochester, New York community, first by becoming an Assemblywoman in the state legislature in 1983, and then a Congresswoman beginning in 1987 until her death in March 2018.
She was also the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee. According to RollCall, Slaughter was “unapologetically liberal” but she made friends with Democrats and Republicans alike. She was a friend to Texas Republican Pete Sessions, who chaired the Rules committee.
“You could not help but like this woman,” former Speaker Paul Ryan said during a congressional memorial service for her last year.
Slaughter was so well-regarded in fact, that a resolution was introduced to name a post office building in Fairport, New York after her, and her husband Bob, who is also deceased. So 414 Congress members got together — 231 Democrats and 183 Republicans — to vote on the resolution.
But seven Republicans couldn’t handle it. Responding to inquiries, several of the Republicans in question said it had nothing to do with Slaughter herself. Instead, they said they were bothered about why the House was spending time voting to rename post offices.
One Republican, in particular, was definitely no friend of hers. Slaughter helped a bill become law that banned insider stock trading among Congress members, whereas Republican Chris Collins was arrested in connection with alleged insider trading, The Buffalo News reports. As a board member of the Australian biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics, Collins allegedly urged other Congress members to buy stock in the company. He has been indicted and is awaiting trial.
The two made it plain they weren’t fans of each other. After an October 2017 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics stated Collins may have participated in insider trading, Slaughter called him out.
“It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better,” she said.
Collins, in turn, responded:
“She is a despicable human being.”
But Collins isn’t one of the Republicans who voted no on renaming the post office in her honor.
So, who are the seven Republicans who did?
Chip Roy (R-Texas), who didn’t serve alongside her. He is definitely in the “why is Congress wasting its time on that?” camp.
“While I didn’t know Rep. Slaughter or her husband, I am sure they were fine, patriotic people dedicated to public service,” he said in a statement. “I don’t think politicians should be spending valuable time naming post offices after other politicians.”
The six remaining Republicans who voted no are Reps. Bill Flores of Texas, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, Wisconsin Rep. Glenn Grothman, Tom Rice (South Carolina), Thomas Massie (Kentucky), and David Rouzer (North Carolina).
An identical resolution during the previous congressional session never made it to the Senate gained six Republican “no” votes, including Harris and Massie. Grothman voted “present,” but Flores, Rice, and Rouzer all voted “yes.”
In a statement, Massie said:
“There are so many unrecognized veterans who have sacrificed for this country that I think it is wrong to name a federal facility after a politician.”
“We shouldn’t name post offices after congressional families unless the member of Congress was a war hero.”
But Bob Slaughter did serve — albeit briefly — in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1955.
And his wife Louise was a soldier in the war on women, but for these Republicans, that apparently isn’t enough.
Even though she was a fierce supporter of women’s rights, who cosponsored, along with then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), the first Violence Against Women Act, which became law in 1994, The New Civil Rights Movement reports.
Even though she made sure Anita Hill’s voice was heard. By joining forces with other female members of the House and converging on the Senate, urging men on the House Judiciary Committee to allow Hill to testify about her sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas, Politico reports.
Even though she challenged gender disparity in health research and access. As the sole female member of the House Budget Committee, she successfully secured $500 million for women’s health research at the National Institutes of Health.
But for these Republicans, all men — that wasn’t enough. Maybe Slaughter didn’t risk her life in the military, but she nevertheless helped countless women who are forced to battle daily for their rights in a war they never created.
And although complications from a fall ended her life at the age of 88, Slaughter didn’t fall from the minds of those who remember the brave things she did.
Featured image by The University of Rochester via YouTube video