WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder, a pioneer for women’s and family rights in Congress, died Monday night. She was 82.
Schroeder’s former press secretary, Andrea Camp, said Schroeder suffered a stroke recently and died at a hospital in Celebration, Florida, the city where she had been residing in recent years.
Schroeder took on the powerful elite with her rapier wit and antics for 24 years, shaking up stodgy government institutions by forcing them to acknowledge that women had a role in government.
Her unorthodox methods cost her important committee posts, but Schroeder said she wasn’t willing to join what she called “the good old boys’ club″ just to score political points. Unafraid of embarrassing her congressional colleagues in public, she became an icon for the feminist movement.
Schroeder was elected to Congress in Colorado in 1972 and became one of its most influential Democrats as she won easy reelection 11 times from her safe district in Denver. Despite her seniority, she was never appointed to head a committee.
Schroeder helped forge several Democratic majorities before deciding in 1997 it was time to leave. Her parting shot in 1998 was a book titled “24 Years of Housework … and the Place is Still a Mess. My Life in Politics,″ which chronicled her frustration with male domination and the slow pace of change in federal institutions.
In 1987, Schroeder tested the waters for the presidency, mounting a fundraising drive after fellow Coloradan Gary Hart pulled out of the race. She announced three months later that she would not run and said her “tears signify compassion, not weakness.” Her heart was not in it, she said, and she thought fundraising was demeaning.
She was the first woman on the House Armed Services Committee but was forced to share a chair with U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Calif., the first African American, when committee chairman F. Edward Hebert, D-La., organized the panel. Schroeder said Hebert thought the committee was no place for a woman or an African American and they were each worth only half a seat.
Republicans were livid after Schroeder and others filed an ethics complaint over House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s televised college lecture series, charging that free cable time he received amounted to an illegal gift under House rules. Gingrich became the first speaker reprimanded by Congress. Gingrich said later he regretted not taking Schroeder and her colleagues more seriously.
Earlier, she had blasted Gingrich for suggesting women …read more