The chair of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) died the morning of cancer at her home in Carson, CA, according to her chief of staff Bandele McQueen. Mrs. Millender-McDonald was serving her seventh term representing a Southern California district that includes Compton, Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles.
McQueen did not provide an indication of the nature of Mrs. Millender-McDonald's cancer. She was 68.
According to a report in The Hill, House Clerk Lorraine Miller has secured Millender-McDonald's office and is to oversee the office until an election can be held to replace her. Her last vote was on March 23, a day in which she also attended an Elections Subcommittee hearing. She had requested a four- to six-week leave of absence from Speaker Pelosi the following week and Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA) had indicated that he would serve as interim chair of the full committee.
From her official biography:
A recent Washington Times article reported a University of California study citing Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald as one of the five most effective Members of Congress given her ability to reach across the aisle to effectively move bipartisan legislation. As the first African American woman in history to hold the distinguished position of Ranking Member on the powerful Committee on House Administration, she oversees the operation of the House of Representatives; the Library of Congress; the Smithsonian Institute; the National Zoo; and all federal elections.
This position extends the many firsts the Congresswoman has amassed since arriving on the political stage. She was the first African American woman to serve on the Carson City Council; the first to hold the position of Chairwoman for two powerful California State Assembly committees (Insurance; and Revenue & Taxation) in her first term. She was the first African American woman to give the national Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address, and the first to be named Honorary Curator of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.
Additionally, Millender-McDonald was the first Democratic Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to lead the women on two groundbreaking meetings, the first with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to talk about the plight of women globally, and another with the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange to develop strategies for increasing women’s investments and net worth.
She also convened the first meeting between women members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the only women to serve on the High Court, to discuss issues of national importance to women. She also led a delegation of 27 women to meet with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, taking the Families First Agenda to 35 states across the nation, another first.
In recognition of women who served our country in uniform during wartime, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald initiated the first annual Memorial Day Tribute to Women in the Military at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and she has led the fight to secure $15 million for the maintenance of the memorial. She has also secured $50 million for counseling services for our returning men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan;
In 1997, a Glamour Magazine survey identified Congresswoman Millender-McDonald as “one of eleven women who will change the world.” Bold initiatives have been her trademark – from the historic move in bringing CIA Director John Deutch to Watts to address allegations of covert involvement in drugs trafficking in south central Los Angeles; to a “sit-in” at former Senator Jesse Helms’ office which forced the confirmation of former Senator Carol Mosley Braun as Ambassador to New Zealand and Fiji Island.
In her role as Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald has investigated widespread voting irregularities and voter disenfranchisement and called for a hearing in Ohio, the first election reform field hearing in Congressional history. Additionally, she has spoken out against genocide in Cambodia, Darfur and other regions of the world where human rights are in danger or ignored, and has worked with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Ambassador John Miller on human trafficking and women’s rights issues globally.
Her stellar performance on transportation issues has resulted in her becoming one of the most respected voices on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where she has secured billions of dollars for her region and California. In 2005, she played a key role in the crafting and ultimate House passage of the six-year Transportation Reauthorization Act (TEA-LU), the largest public works legislation in our nation’s history.
Her list of landmark legislation includes:
- the Projects of National and Regional Significance – a $1.8 billion program to address national transportation arteries congestion and mitigation.
- the historic Alameda Corridor initiative in the 90’s;
- the Mother-to-Child HIV/AIDS Transmission Act – legislation the President has established as his $15 billion African AIDS initiative;
- legislation to increase diabetes research in minority and female populations;
- the American-Asian Justice Act to allow foreign-born children of former and current American servicemen to be united with their American families;
- the Freedmen’s Bureau Preservation Act of 2000, which directs the National Archives to preserve the records of former African American slaves for future generations to trace their family history;
- the Prohibition Against Alcohol Trafficking Act (PAAT Act) to end the sale of alcohol to minors via the internet.
- legislation that directs the Secretary of Education to study and report to Congress of the troubling dropout rate among Latino, Native American; American Samoan and African American high school students;
- legislation to secure $2 million to reduce the backlog of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints, including sexual harassment allegations of female air traffic controllers;
- the Anti-terrorism/Port Security Act of 2003;
- the Terrorist Threat to Public Transportation Assessment Act of 2001;
- the Child Safety Lock on Firearms Act; Date Rape and Violence Act; Sexual Trafficking.
When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) imposed mandatory flood insurance premiums on the elderly and low income residents throughout the South Bay and South Central, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald went to work securing $50 million in federal funding to alleviate those costs to residents and businesses in the 37 th District.
Millender-McDonald also secured $2 million in federal funding for the first Urban Telemedicine Project in the nation for public housing tenants that focus on eye disease detection, prevention and treatment; initiated the first outreach to Africans in the Diaspora during the 2000 census campaign; coordinated the first “Women Across America” Count 2000 and facilitated the rollout of California Count 2000; initiated the first re-enactment of the 19 th Amendment on the floor of the California State Legislation during the 75 th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.
Hailed by national leaders for her creative leadership; she passed a resolution proclaiming a national “Dr. Dorothy Height Day” and received over 100 proclamations from mayors across the country paying special tribute to this pre-eminent social and civil rights leader.
Millender-McDonald is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She serves on the Harbor College Foundation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board of Directors, and the Board of Trustees of Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles. She is Founder and Executive Director of the League of African-American Women, an organization of 40 African-American women's groups, and the founder of the Young Advocates, a political leadership-training program for African-Americans between the ages of 18-35.
Millender-McDonald earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands, a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from California State University - Los Angeles, and teaching and Administration credentials from the California State University system. She is married to James McDonald, Jr., and they are the proud parents and grandparents of five adult children and five grandchildren.
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