Rep. Jackie Walorski, Indiana Republican, killed in automobile crash

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Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and three other people, including two of her associates, were killed in a car accident Wednesday afternoon, according to the Elkhart County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Office.

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

“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just notified by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie died in a car accident this afternoon. She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her 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. The driver of a northbound vehicle turned left off the centerline and collided head-on with the SUV with Walorski and associates Zachery Potts, 27, and Emma Thomson, 28. All three occupants of the southbound vehicle died from their injuries. Edith Schmucker, 56, was the only occupant of the other vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered the flags at the US Capitol to be flown at half-mast in memory of Walorski.

“Congresswoman Walorski has been a lifelong Hoosier and has lived a life of service: whether she was caring for impoverished children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse, or serving in the House of Representatives for nearly a decade,” Pelosi said in a statement. “She passionately brought the voices of her northern Indiana constituents to Congress and was admired for her personal kindness by peers on both sides of the aisle.”

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

A native of South Bend, Indiana, she 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 named her the senior Republican seat on the sensitive Ethics Committee, an evenly split body that investigates lawmakers, in early 2021.

“I am honored to assume the important responsibility of holding Members of the House of Representatives to the highest standards of transparency, accountability and ethical behavior,” she said in a statement upon receiving the appointment.

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President Biden, who ordered the flags at the White House to be filled halfway in honor of members of Congress, released a statement saying he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked and deeply saddened” by Walorski’s death.

“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, where she served,” Biden said.

Fellow Republicans expressed their sadness Wednesday shortly after news of Walorski’s death was released.

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

“She was an incredible Hoosier official and leader within the Republican Party,” McDaniel said in a statement. “The entire Republican National Committee is praying for her family and the families of the two employees who were also tragically killed.”

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

“Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them,” he wrote. “I will never forget her spirit, positivity and most importantly her friendship.”

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

“Devastated to hear the devastating news of the death of Jackie Walorski and her two associates,” Scalise wrote. “She was a dear friend who loved serving the Indiana people in Congress.”

If the Republicans took over the House of Representatives after the November midterm elections, Walorski would have been on track to chair the subcommittee on ways and means for workers and family support. Walorski, an evangelical Christian, was known for her conservative stance on social issues.

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

“At the urging of Speaker Pelosis, House Democrats have again voted to authorize abortion at any stage of pregnancy anywhere in the country and funded by American taxpayers,” Walorski said in a statement. “Abortion on demand is a direct affront to the values ​​of the protection of life and the rights of conscience of Americans.”

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

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