Former US Rep. Pat Schroeder, an outspoken feminist icon over her two decades in Congress, died Monday night. She was 82.
Schroeder, who recently suffered a stroke, died at a Florida hospital, her former press secretary said.
The former lawmaker was remembered for taking on her male colleagues as a vocal pioneer for women’s and family’s rights during her 24 years representing a House district in Colorado.
“Her leadership for women and families made a lasting impact, and Pat was a true trailblazer for so many of us. May her memory always be a blessing,” tweeted Colorado’s Democratic secretary of state Jena Griswold.
Schroeder was first elected in 1972 and cruised to 11 more election wins even as she offered an unorthodox style of legislating that did not shy away from publicly calling out – and even shaming – congressional colleagues. She forced government institutions to acknowledge that women had a role in government as she battled the powerful elite.
The uniquely confrontational style did cost her though, as she was never appointed to lead a committee. Undeterred, she said she was unwilling to join what she considered “the good old boys’ club” just to score political points.
She butted heads with Republicans and fellow Democrats alike.
Schroeder was one of several lawmakers that filed an ethics complaint over House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s televised college lecture series with the claim the free cable time he scooped up was essentially an illegal gift under House rules.
Gingrich was the first speaker ever reprimanded by Congress and he later admitted he should’ve taken Schroeder and her colleagues more seriously.
She also labeled President Ronald Reagan the “Teflon” president for dodging blame for major policy decisions with the name sticking.
She was the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, but was forced to share a chair with US Rep. Ron Dellums, who was the first African American to be seated on the committee.
Schroeder accused committee chair F. Edward Hebert, a Democrat from Louisiana, of forcing her and Dellums to share because he thought the committee was no place for a woman or an African American and they were only worth half a seat.
When a congressman once asked how she could be a mother and raise two small children, she shot back, “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.”
One of Shroeder’s biggest legislative wins was when a family-leave bill was passed in 1993 that provided job protection for care of a newborn, sick child or a parent.
The Harvard Law School graduate who was born in Portland, Oregon, briefly considered a run for president in 1987, but ultimately she said her heart wasn’t in it.
After she retired in 1997, she offered a parting shot to her former colleagues when she wrote a 1998 book titled “24 Years of Housework … and the Place is Still a Mess. My Life in Politics” where she detailed her frustration in the male dominated field and how change of federal entities happened at a snail’s pace.
The ex-pilot paid for her schooling at Harvard and the University of Minnesota with her own flying service.
After Schroeder left Congress, she taught at Princeton University. She remained politically active though, mentoring candidates and campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Her last years were spent in Florida, still going door to door and speaking to groups.
She leaves behind her husband, who she married in 1962, and their two children, as well as her brother and four grandchildren.
With Post wires