Rep. Jackie Walorski, two staff members killed in Indiana car crash

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Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and three others, including two members of her staff, were killed in a car crash Wednesday afternoon, according to the Elkhart County, Ind., Sheriff’s Office.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share this statement from the office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a Twitter announcement, posting a photo which included the following text:

“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, has just been notified by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. She returned home to be with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time. »

Walorski, 58, was involved in a two-vehicle accident on Route 19 south of Route 119, according to the sheriff’s office. The driver of a northbound vehicle traveled left of the center line and collided head-on with the sport utility vehicle carrying Walorski and staff members Zachery Potts, 27, and Emma Thomson, 28. All three occupants of the southbound vehicle died of their injuries. Edith Schmucker, 56, was the sole occupant of the other vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) ordered that the flags in the United States Capitol be flown at half-mast in memory of Walorski.

“A lifelong Hoosier, Congresswoman Walorski has lived a life of service: whether caring for poor children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse or serving near a decade in the House,” Pelosi said in a statement. “She passionately raised the voice of her northern Indiana constituents in Congress, and she was admired by her colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.”

Walorski had served in Congress since 2013 representing the 2nd congressional district. She was the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee and was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The South Bend, Ind., native worked in journalism and academia before being elected to Congress in 2012. A religious conservative, she was educated in Christian colleges and did missionary work before coming to Capitol Hill.

McCarthy nominated her in early 2021 to the ranking Republican spot on the Sensitive Ethics Committee, an equally divided panel that handles investigations of lawmakers.

“I am honored to take on the important responsibility of holding House members to the highest standards of transparency, accountability and ethical conduct,” she said in a statement after receiving the appointment.

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President Biden, who ordered the White House flags flown at half-mast in honor of the congresswoman, released a statement in which he said he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the death of Walorski.

“We may have represented different parties and disagreed on many issues, but she was respected by members of both parties for her work on the House Ways and Means Committee on which she served,” Biden said.

Fellow Republicans expressed their grief on Wednesday shortly after news of Walorski’s death broke.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel called Walorski a “good friend.”

“She was an incredible public servant for Hoosiers and a leader within the Republican Party,” McDaniel said in a statement. “The entire Republican National Committee prays for his family, as well as for the families of the two staff members who were also tragically killed.”

Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) tweeted that he was “really devastated.”

“Jackie loved the Hoosiers and dedicated his life to fighting for them,” he wrote. “I will never forget his spirit, his positive attitude and, above all, his friendship.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted that he was praying for the families of Walorski and his staff.

“Devastated to hear the horrible news of the passing of Jackie Walorski and his two employees,” Scalise wrote. “She was a dear friend who enjoyed serving the people of Indiana in Congress.”

In the event of a Republican takeover of the House after November’s midterm elections, Walorski would have been on track to chair the Ways and Means Workers and Families Support Subcommittee. Walorski, an evangelical Christian, was known for her conservative positions on social issues.

Earlier this month, she opposed the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Abortion Access Act, calling Democrats’ stance on abortion “dangerous” and of “extreme”.

“At the urging of Speaker Pelosi, House Democrats have once again voted to greenlight abortion at any time during pregnancy, anywhere in the country, and funded by American taxpayers,” Walorski said in a statement. “Abortion on demand is a direct affront to American pro-life values ​​and conscience rights.”

A supporter of Donald Trump, Walorski voted against the president’s impeachment in 2021 for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which killed one police officer and four others and injured more than 100 law enforcement officers. of the order. She also voted against confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election.

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