WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives today held a memorial service in honor of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the first woman in history to chair the House Committee on Rules. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) made the following remarks at the ceremony, as prepared for delivery:
“There are so many superlatives we can use to describe what kind of person Louise was.
“But first, I would just like to share with you a bit about what it was like to be on the opposite side of the aisle from Louise.
“Because I think it helps speak to how effective she was, how revered she was.
“Formidable’ does not even begin to describe it.
“She was just so resolute, so certain in her point of view.
“You could try to convince her otherwise, but if you didn’t have every fact straight, if you had not done your homework, forget it. You did not stand a chance.
“Louise could also be so warm, as we all knew her to be, and then, she could be a little more direct.
“She could move back and forth between the two so easily. You could never keep up with her.
“And I mean that quite literally.
“This is someone who would be battling out in Rules until 3 or 4 am.
“Then you’d see her showing constituents around the Capitol at 8. Then you’d look up and there she is managing a rule on the floor at 10:30.
“Oh, and the way she could deploy a one-liner. Louise would use a quip to make her case or to break up a tense moment or just to shut you down. She could run circles around you.
“Now you know how it is in the Rules Committee. The arguments can get animated, even personal. But Louise always came back the next day and was the first one ready to move on to the issues at hand. That is one of so many reasons why you just had to like her.
“Here is one more. Away from the dais, Louise was always so gracious, so kind. She knew about people’s lives. She asked about your family. She was as polite to staff as she was to members. We will all treasure those moments.
“These days, we talk so much—too much—about being on ‘opposite sides.’
“In between those aisles, there is plenty of scar tissue. But that space between is where our humanity lies, where all we have to go on is our respect for one another, our understanding of one another as people.
“No one did more to deepen the meaning of these things than Louise McIntosh Slaughter.
“A pioneer. A grandmother. A giant.
“I will miss her very much.
“At this time, we have a presentation to make.
“Last month, Leader Pelosi and I requested that an American flag be flown above the Capitol in honor of our dear friend and colleague.
“It is my privilege on behalf of the whole House to present this flag to Louise’s family.