Pat Schroeder.Nick Ut AP 1999

Former U.S. Congresswoman Pat Schroeder has died; she was both a suburban mom with young children and a trailblazing feminist who became a national icon. Elected in 1972, she won re-election 11 times in her Colorado district. She was the first woman to serve on the Armed Services Committee, but had to share her seat with the first Black Congressman on the committee, because its crusty old chairman, a White Southerner, didn’t think anyone but his kind were qualified to be on a military committee. She chaired the bipartisan Women’s Caucus and passed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, giving millions of workers the right to take time off to care for loved ones without losing their jobs, which was the first bill signed by the new president, Bill Clinton. She was known for her witty retorts in debate, which made her something of a TV favorite; asked how she could raise little children and serve in Congress both, she replied, “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.” (Nick Ut/AP, 1999)

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