Congressman Jackie Walorski, Republican of Indiana, died in a car accident

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Rep. 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, Indiana Sheriff’s Office.

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

“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie was killed 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 crash 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 officers Zachery Potts, 27, and Emma Thomson, 28. All three occupants of the vehicle traveling on south, 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-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff in memory of Walorski.

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

Walorski has served in Congress since 2013, representing the 2nd Congressional District. She was the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee and served on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Born in South Bend, Indiana, she worked in journalism and academia before being elected to Congress in 2012. A religious conservative, she was educated at Christian colleges and worked in a mission before coming to Capitol Hill.

McCarthy appointed her in early 2021 to the Republican seat on the sensitive Ethics Committee, an evenly divided panel that handles investigations of lawmakers.

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

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President Biden, who ordered flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff in honor of the congresswoman, 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, which she served on,” Biden said.

Fellow Republicans expressed grief Wednesday, shortly after news of Walorski’s death was made public.

Republican National Committee Chair Rona McDaniel called Valorsky a “good friend.”

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

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

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

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

“I am devastated to hear the terrible news of the death of Jackie Walorski and her two employees,” Scalise wrote. “She was a dear friend who loved serving the people of Indiana in Congress.”

In the event of a Republican takeover of the House after the November midterm elections, Walorski would be on track to chair the subcommittee on ways and means to help workers and families. Walorski, an evangelical Christian, was known for her conservative stances on social issues.

Earlier this month, she opposed the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Affordable Care Act, calling Democrats’ position on abortion “dangerous” and “extreme.”

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

A supporter of Donald Trump, Walorski voted against impeaching the president in 2021 for his role in the Jan. 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.