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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter’s Official Portrait as Chair of Committee on Rules Unveiled

May 1, 2015
Press Release
First and Only Woman Chair of Committee Since Formation in 1789. President Obama, Former Secretary of State Clinton, Democratic Leader Pelosi, and Colleagues Share Their Admiration

HD Photos for Press Usage Can Be Found Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) was joined by family, friends, Democratic Leadership, bipartisan members of the Rules Committee, the New York Congressional Delegation, and others to unveil her official portrait as chair of the House Committee on Rules.  In 2007, Congresswoman Slaughter became the first woman to serve as chair of the House Committee on Rules, one of the most powerful committees in Congress and among the oldest standing committees in the House, having been first formally constituted on April 2, 1789.  She served as chairwoman from 2007-2011, during the 110th and 111th Congresses and currently serves as the ranking member of the committee.

“It is a great honor to serve on the Rules Committee, now as its ranking member and as its first and only woman chair. I hope this portrait, hanging amidst the storied chairs of the past, serves as a reminder that anyone can achieve the American Dream. It’s my hope that in the very near future, women will outnumber the men on this committee’s wall and in all the committee rooms in Congress,” said Congresswoman Slaughter.  “I thank my colleagues for their support and I am filled with such joy to be joined by them, members of my staff from throughout the years, family, and friends from near and far today as we unveil this portrait.”

On January 12, 2007, Chairwoman Slaughter called to order her first meeting of the Committee on Rules.  At the time she said, "This is an important body, one charged with upholding the standards of our House and ensuring that the will of the American people is done here. It is a big responsibility, but I know that we are ready for it." During the 110th Congress, Slaughter helped House Democrats pass more than 230 key measures, more than 70 percent of which had significant bipartisan support. The 111th Congress was heralded as “one of the most productive Congresses in history” by congressional scholar Norman Ornstein.

President Barack Obama said in support of Congresswoman Slaughter, “Louise Slaughter has proudly served in Congress for nearly three decades. As Chairwoman of the Rules Committee, she has shepherded landmark legislation like the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act through the House, and millions of Americans are better off because of it. Louise has spent a lifetime fighting for New Yorkers and for hardworking men and women across our country, and I’m sending my congratulations to her on this special day.” 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "I am so delighted to join with family, friends, and fans in celebrating the unveiling of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's official portrait as Chairwoman of the House Committee on Rules. Throughout her time as Chairwoman from 2007 to 2011, Louise's leadership was essential to the passage of countless pieces of legislation that have moved our country forward, and her barrier-breaking tenure and steadfast commitment to our shared values has made our nation better, safer, and stronger. I am proud of my dear friend and honored to express my gratitude for her service.”

“Time and again, across decades in the House, Congresswoman Slaughter has proven herself to be a strategic leader and committed champion for America’s hard-working families,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “As the first woman chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, Congresswoman Slaughter has left an indelible legacy of undaunted courage and visionary leadership that will continue to inspire her colleagues in the years to come.”

According to the Office of the Clerk, the House tradition of chair portraits dates back to 1891. The first chair portrait depicts James Garfield after his tenure heading the Committee on Appropriations. House chairs work with the Curator of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society to commission a portrait honoring their leadership.  The chair is able to dictate the timing of their portrait process. Some lawmakers have them painted while they serve as chair, others wait until after they relinquish the gavel, or even after they leave Congress. House chair portraits are not paid for with taxpayer funding.

Last year, Congresswoman Slaughter selected renowned portrait artist Jon Friedman to create her portrait. Friedman is a celebrated portraitist whose subjects are leaders in the worlds of science, medicine, technology, and government. Friedman has painted Bill and Melinda Gates, Congressman Barney Frank, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, and many others.  He spent more than seven months creating Congresswoman Slaughter’s portrait. 

Congresswoman Slaughter’s portrait contains meaningful details in the background, including portrayals of her husband and seven grandchildren, as well as items representing her interests and legislative accomplishments in genetics, microbiology, rail infrastructure, and passage of the historic health care reform law.

As Chairwoman from 2007-2011, Rep. Slaughter was able to bring key pieces of legislation to the House Floor for a vote, including a bill that raised the federal minimum wage, The Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, The Affordable Care Act, The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, and The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. A more complete list of accomplishments can be found below. A more in-depth history of the Rules Committee can be found here.

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, Democratic Whip (MD-05): "I have been proud to serve alongside Representative Slaughter in Congress for many years, and I continue to admire her tenacity, her determination, and her leadership in fighting on behalf of working families in New York and across the country. As Chair of the Rules Committee - the first and only woman to hold that powerful post – Rep. Slaughter played an instrumental role in passing landmark legislation on a range of critical issues in the 110th and 111th Congresses. The portrait unveiled today will serve as a permanent reminder of that period in our history and her contributions to the Congress and to our country throughout her career in public service."

Congressman James E. Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader (SC-06): “I want to congratulate my good friend and colleague, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, on the occasion of the unveiling of her official portrait.  Chairwoman Slaughter is the first and only woman to chair the House Rules Committee since its creation in 1789.  I had the honor of serving as Majority Whip throughout Louise’s tenure as Rules Chairwoman.  We worked closely together to pass landmark legislation including the first increase in the minimum wage in ten years, the Recovery Act to rescue the American economy from the Great Recession and the Affordable Care Act, which I have called the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century because it outlawed discrimination against women and people with pre-existing conditions.  Even with Democrats in the Minority in the House, Congresswoman Slaughter remains a tireless advocate for progressive policies that benefit working people in her New York district and across the country.  I am pleased to congratulate Congresswoman Slaughter on this most deserving honor.”

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Budget (MD-08): “Louise is a perfect blend of Kentucky charm and New York grit.  She is a fierce advocate for the little guy, a strong champion for women’s equality, and a devoted and dear friend. I am delighted to be with her for the unveiling of her portrait as she marks her place in history in the U.S. House.” 

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-01), Co-Chair Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus: “For decades, Louise Slaughter has shattered glass ceilings, fought for smart, science-driven policy, and demonstrated an unrelenting passion for the needs of women, children, and families. I am honored to call Louise a colleague and a friend.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04): "Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s dedication to public health, education, and women is a shining example of what is right in American politics. As an original author of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, the Congresswoman worked tirelessly in ensuring that every American had the right to pursue her own measure of happiness, free from the fear of abuse or assault. In 2013, Congresswoman Slaughter and I worked side by side in pushing for the reauthorization of her landmark legislation. Leading the charge to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act was an uphill battle, but her leadership and determination was vital in facilitating its passage. Needless to say, Congresswoman Slaughter’s outstanding contributions to the women’s rights movement cannot be overstated. Her legislative efforts have been key in addressing the most pressing issues facing Americans today and her passion and intelligence is undeniable. I am honored to call her my colleague, and more importantly, my dear friend."

Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “As a national and outspoken champion for women and families, Rep. Louise Slaughter has a long history of supporting women's access to reproductive health care. As the former chair and now ranking member on the influential House Committee on Rules, the first woman from either political party to hold this position, she has used this platform to fight back against deeply unpopular attacks on women's health, including an extreme agenda to deny women access to safe, legal abortion. We thank Rep. Slaughter for her leadership and commitment to ensure all women are given the opportunity and resources to make their own reproductive health care decisions.”

Congressman Pete Sessions, Chair, House Committee on Rules (TX-32): “We discuss a lot of different matters in the Rules Committee, and more often than not, the majority and the minority disagree on the issues at hand, yet Louise is always cordial and professional. Her presence makes a positive difference in the atmosphere of our committee and the attitude of the members who testify before us, and her vast list of accomplishments gives interesting perspective to our discussions. That’s important for any committee, but particularly for a committee that meets frequently and often late into the night. I am proud to serve alongside Louise and I am even more proud to call her my friend.”

Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02): “As the first woman to chair the powerful Rules Committee, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter presided over one of the most effective Congresses in history. Under her leadership, the Rules Committee moved legislation like the Recovery Act that kick-started our economy, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that protected the rights of women in the workplace, and – most importantly – the Affordable Care Act that guarantees health care as a right, not a privilege. This country is a better place today because Louise Slaughter served as chair of the Rules Committee.”

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20):  “Today’s portrait unveiling in honor of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is truly an historic moment for this institution.  Louise is the first and only woman to have served as Chair of the Committee on Rules.  I am so honored to celebrate her achievements.  She is a tremendous leader, and I look forward to serving with her for many more years to come.”

Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02):“Ranking Member Slaughter is a tireless advocate for workers, the arts, reproductive rights, and civil rights. She brings a quick-wit and liveliness to the Rules Committee and Capitol Hill, and members on both sides of the aisle respect her for her commitment to her work and her enthusiastic advocacy.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer (NY):“From her first day in public service, Louise Slaughter has been a trailblazer and glass-ceiling buster.  In her many years in the House, Rep. Slaughter has served the people of New York and the nation with class, honesty, effectiveness, intellect, and passion. It is appropriate and well-earned that the champion of the national Women’s Hall of Fame at the birthplace of the women’s equality movement in her home area of Seneca Falls New York – and the first and only woman to chair the powerful Rules Committee since its founding in 1789 – has her portrait joins the pantheon of well-regarded leaders of the House of Representatives.  I look forward to many more years of her leadership in Washington and our beloved Rochester, New York region.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY):"Congresswoman Slaughter left a lasting impression in her role as Chair of the House Rules Committee, not only as the first and only woman to hold the position, but as a decisive leader with firm principles. This portrait is a tribute to her strong voice and advocacy.  It is an honor to work alongside Congresswoman Slaughter serving the people of New York and the nation."

Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus:“Louise may sound like she’s from Kentucky, but she fights like she’s from New York. And while she has always been a woman with passion, once she became a woman with a gavel, watch out. This portrait will hang in Congress to remind us - and future generations - not only of all that Louise has accomplished and has stood for, but of all that we aspire to be. But I’m sure for Louise, this portrait isn’t the icing on the cake to a career, but fuel to keep pushing, to keep working, to make life better for New Yorkers and all Americans. And that tireless drive is what we all love most about Louise.”

Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13): "It is an honor to have served the state of New York with my friend, Congresswoman Slaughter, who has been a pioneer in the House of Representatives for so long. We have worked closely on many issues, including closing the tax loophole for big phone companies. Under her leadership, the Rules Committee shaped landmark legislation aimed to better the lives of the American people. I congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition."

Congressman Steve Israel (NY-03):“Louise has been a tireless leader for the people of New York for more than thirty years. Her leadership as the first Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee was unprecedented and it’s an honor to call her my colleague and friend.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12): “It has been a privilege to serve with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter throughout the past 22 years. Her tenacity, quick-wit, and dogged perseverance as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Rules Committee set a standard of leadership rarely seen in the halls of Congress. Her portrait now hangs among many of the great leaders of the House, as it should.”

Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20): “One of the highest honors I have experienced during my time in Congress has been working alongside Rep. Slaughter on behalf of New York and indeed the nation. Under her continued leadership, she has advocated for a fair and open legislative process in Congress with input from all Members. She is a tenacious fighter for what she believes in and knows how to advance ideas and policy that make our country a better place to live, work and raise a family. This portrait is historic in nature and will serve as a source of inspiration for many while also being a fine reminder of the terrific career of public service she continues to build upon.”

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26):“With a perfect mix of southern charm and New York grit, Congresswoman Slaughter is someone who knows how to get things done. Under her leadership the House has ushered through some of the most historic policies of our time.  And still with fierce commitment she maintains a strong focus on the things that truly matter to our shared Western New York community.  This is a fitting tribute to her trailblazing spirit and longstanding service to this nation.”

Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-22):“Congratulations to my friend, colleague, and fellow upstate New Yorker, Louise, on this momentous occasion. Throughout her congressional career, Louise has been a staunch champion for women and a fierce representative of her community’s causes. It’s truly fitting that she is the first and only chairwoman of this powerful committee. I wish her the best today and every day.”

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Art Caucus: “Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is a tremendous public servant.  As the Republican Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, I am proud to join with Congresswoman Slaughter in many collaborations on issues important to the preservation and advancement of our nation’s cultural identity.  I look forward to our continued work in service to the nation.”  

As Chairwoman from 2007-2011, Rep. Slaughter was able to bring key pieces of legislation to the House Floor for a vote, including:

2007: Brought legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives increasing the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, giving 13 million Americans a $4,400 raise.

2008: Won passage of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), a law that Slaughter authored to protect individuals from discrimination by employers or health insurers based on genetic predispositions to health conditions.

2008: Brought legislation to the floor leading to passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act to provide free college education to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

2009: Won passage of the National Women's Rights History Project Act – after nearly a decade of work with then-Senator Hillary Clinton – as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, authorizing the Votes for Women Trail, an auto route linking historical sites with importance to the struggle for women's rights and suffrage.

2009: Brought the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the floor of the House of Representatives, which created and saved 3.5 million jobs, gave 98 percent of American workers a tax cut, and began to rebuild American infrastructure.

2009: Brought the Affordable Care Act to the floor of the House of Representatives for an historic vote, expanding and improving health care for Americans.

2010: Won passage of the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act in the wake of the Colgan Air Flight #3407 disaster in the Buffalo area.

2010: Ushered the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010 to the floor of the House of Representatives, providing large increases in the size of Pell grants, strengthening the Perkins loan program, and drastically lowering interest rates on federally subsidized student loans.

2010: Brought the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to the floor of the House of Representatives, ensuring that unchecked corporate greed will never again bring America to financial collapse.