HomePoliticsPatricia Schroeder, congresswoman who wielded barbed wit, dies at 82

Patricia Schroeder, congresswoman who wielded barbed wit, dies at 82

Former congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, a megaphone for the ladies’s motion, the primary girl to serve on the Home Armed Providers Committee and a liberal Democrat recognized for her barbed wit, notably coining the time period “Teflon president” to lambaste President Ronald Reagan, died March 13 at a hospital in Celebration, Fla. She was 82.

The trigger was problems from a stroke, stated her daughter, Jamie Cornish.

Mrs. Schroeder, who grew up in a family the place her father assumed girls might do something, earned a pilot’s license at 15, weathered sexism to grow to be a Harvard-trained lawyer and was a 32-year-old mom of two when she was first elected to Congress from Colorado in 1972. “I’ve a mind and a uterus, and I exploit them each,” she quipped when one male lawmaker questioned how she could possibly be a spouse, mom and congresswoman.

When she arrived in Washington, there have been solely 14 girls within the Home, a lot of whom had been widows filling out the phrases of their deceased husbands. She described the establishment as “an overaged frat home.”

Throughout her 12 phrases within the Home of Representatives, Mrs. Schroeder was outspoken on points that ranged from girls’s rights and household issues to navy coverage. She was appointed to the Home Armed Providers Committee, after which fought vigorously to be heard and revered.

F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana, the committee’s hard-line conservative Democratic chairman, allowed only one seat within the listening to room to be shared by Mrs. Schroeder and Ron Dellums, a newly elected African American congressman from California. She recalled Hebert saying, “The 2 of you might be solely value half the traditional member.”

Mrs. Schroeder stated she and Dellums “sat cheek to cheek on one chair, making an attempt to retain some dignity.”

Hébert was stripped of his chairmanship two years later in a revolt by youthful committee members, however earlier than his ouster, Mrs. Schroeder did her greatest to get underneath his pores and skin. He returned the favor, refusing to approve her appointment to the U.S. delegation to a SALT disarmament convention in Geneva on chemical warfare.

“I wouldn’t ship you to characterize this committee at a dogfight,” Hébert reportedly remarked, in accordance with a Washington Submit profile of Mrs. Schroeder. The State Division ultimately waived the rule requiring the chairman’s approval of all nominations, and Mrs. Schroeder made the journey.

Whereas usually on the dropping finish of protection debates, Mrs. Schroeder believed that her combat towards the Pentagon’s “outrageous” requests helped to create “a political local weather conducive to significant reform.” A robust proponent of arms management, she derided the Armed Providers Committee as a Pentagon “lap canine” and rankled the navy brass by always questioning their spending habits.

Throughout a 1973 debate over a weapons system, she used mocking language invoking a slick Madison Avenue gross sales job: “Is it larger? Is it sooner? Is it extra maneuverable? Does it give nearer, extra snug shaves?” On one other event, she chided those that thought that “killing an enemy 15 occasions over makes us safer than if we will kill him solely 5 occasions over.”

On the home entrance, Mrs. Schroeder from 1973 till 1995 co-chaired the Congressional Caucus for Girls’s Points, a bipartisan group of lawmakers dedicated to advancing laws on reproductive rights, girls’s fairness and office flexibility for folks.

She was the first sponsor of the Nationwide Baby Safety Act of 1993, which established procedures for nationwide prison background checks for child-care suppliers, and he or she performed a pivotal position within the passage of the Violence Towards Girls Act of 1994, which was supposed to assist legislation enforcement and sufferer providers organizations combat rape and different types of violent crime towards girls.

Mrs. Schroeder additionally was a robust advocate for the Breast and Cervical Most cancers Mortality Prevention Act of 1990, which offered lower-income girls with breast and cervical most cancers screening and post-screening diagnostic providers in an effort to boost early detection. The legislation, nonetheless, didn’t pay for remedy, inserting many uninsured girls in a predicament of not with the ability to afford care. A decade later, Congress handed laws offering medical help to eligible uninsured girls by Medicaid.

She spent 9 years championing the Household and Medical Depart Act, which was permitted by Congress in 1993 and supplies job safety for as much as 12 weeks of unpaid go away for the care of a new child, sick youngster or guardian. And as chairwoman of a Submit Workplace and Civil Service subcommittee, she was a number one advocate for federal workers in such areas as whistleblower laws.

“Pat Schroeder was the face and voice of a brand new form of congresswoman,” Ruth B. Mandel, former director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers College and founding father of its Middle for American Girls and Politics, stated in a 2018 interview for this obituary. “All through her years of twin focus and management on girls’s and household points and on navy tools and the armed providers, there was nothing conventional about Congresswoman Schroeder.”

20 years earlier than Hillary Clinton first ran for president, Mrs. Schroeder made a short exploratory bid in 1987 for the White Home, however dropped out with a tearful speech. Critics on the correct, citing the tears, derided her as weak, whereas some feminists criticized her for reinforcing the stereotype of ladies as emotional.

“The critics who appeared most insane to me had been those that stated they wouldn’t need the one who had a ‘finger on the button’ to be somebody who cries,” she wrote in her 1989 e-book, “Champion of the Nice American Household.” “I answered that I wouldn’t need that particular person to be somebody who doesn’t cry.”

Resistance at Harvard Legislation

Patricia Nell Scott was born in Portland, Ore., on July 30, 1940. Her father was an aviation insurance coverage adjuster, and her mom taught elementary faculty. The household moved continuously, and by the point Nell entered highschool in Des Moines, she had lived in six different cities.

She graduated from the College of Minnesota in 1961 and acquired a legislation diploma from Harvard in 1964. She was considered one of simply 15 girls in a category of greater than 500 at Harvard, the place she stated she encountered jarring resistance to her presence, with the dean telling the ladies, “Do you notice you’ve taken this place from a person?”

She was in awe of 1 girl who stood her floor, telling the dean, “Effectively, I’m solely right here as a result of I couldn’t get in at Yale.”

In 1962, she married James Schroeder, additionally a Harvard Legislation scholar. Along with her husband, of Celebration, survivors embody two youngsters, Scott Schroeder of Windfall and Jamie Cornish of Bozeman, Mont.; a brother; and 4 grandchildren.

After Harvard, the Schroeders moved to Denver to apply legislation. Mrs. Schroeder additionally signed on as authorized counsel to Deliberate Parenthood of Colorado. In 1972, her husband, a Democratic precinct captain, urged his spouse to run for Congress in an ordinarily Democratic district centered in Denver that was represented by freshman Republican Mike McKevitt.

Mrs. Schroeder received the overall election by about 8,000 votes, relying closely on grass-roots volunteers and working on a liberal, anti-Vietnam Conflict platform. Through the marketing campaign, her opponent referred to her as “Little Patsy” and dispatched a gaggle of younger girls in plaid skirts referred to as “Mike’s women” whose job was to explain him as a “nice man.”

She later realized that she was underneath surveillance by the FBI and topic to a collection of soiled tips, with the bureau having paid her husband’s barber to be an informer.

When Mrs. Schroeder declined to hunt reelection in 1996, she acknowledged that she had grow to be annoyed by the lack of energy after Republicans received the Home majority in 1994 in addition to by rising partisanship in Congress.

After leaving Washington — on the time because the longest-serving girl within the Home of Representatives — Mrs. Schroeder moved to Celebration and spent 11 years as president and chief govt of the Affiliation of American Publishers. In that job, she advocated stronger copyright legal guidelines, opposed Google’s plan to submit restricted content material of digitized books on-line, and was vital of libraries for making use of digital content material with out compensating publishers and writers.

Amongst Mrs. Schroeder’s chief legacies is a ability at a pithy quote. Some labeled her a grandstander, however her phrasemaking usually helped her get her message throughout to the general public. She actually cooked up the time period Teflon president whereas making eggs for her youngsters utilizing a Teflon pan. Whereas the time period has come to be seen as an admirable high quality in a pacesetter who can overcome deficiencies that might doom anybody else, Mrs. Schroeder’s gibe was not supposed as a praise.

Politically accountability, she stated, slid off Reagan just like the eggs from her pan. She took to the Home flooring in 1983 and introduced, “After fastidiously watching Ronald Reagan, he’s making an attempt a terrific breakthrough in political expertise; he has been perfecting the Teflon-coated presidency.”

“He sees to it that nothing sticks to him,” Mrs. Schroeder added. “He’s liable for nothing. . . . He’s simply the grasp of ceremonies at another person’s dinner.”

Because the phrase caught on, she later informed the Chicago Tribune, officers from the chemical big DuPont, which holds the Teflon trademark, made an appointment to see her and threatened a copyright infringement lawsuit.

“They had been most sad,” she stated. “A man got here by my workplace from their company headquarters and form of snarled and growled about it. I might hardly preserve a straight face.”

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