House Administration Chairwoman Millender-McDonald Dies

Posted April 22, 2007 at 2:35pm

House Administration Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D), who had been suffering from an undisclosed form of cancer, died Sunday morning at her home in California, her office confirmed. She was 68. The seven-term Congresswoman had been on a leave of absence from Congress since last week. “The loss of Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald is a personal one for me. She was always optimistic and determined to make a difference,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement. “The dignity with which she faced her illness was an indication of the determination with which she always served the people of her district. They have lost an effective leader and spokeswoman, and I have lost a dear friend.” After feeling ill earlier this month, the Los Angeles-area Representative visited at least one doctor in Washington, D.C., and returned home to California prior to the April recess for several more sessions with physicians before informing House Democratic leaders that she was suffering from cancer. The Congresswoman, who has closely guarded information regarding her health over the years, had not told her Capitol Hill staff what type of cancer she was suffering from or how aggressive it was. The Clerk of the House will now take over the office of the 37th district of California until California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) sets a date for a special election for the Democratic-leaning seat. And Pelosi will have to name a new chairman of House Administration. That chairmanship is assigned by the Speaker and does not conform to standard seniority guidelines. “I think it’s a great loss. She was a wonderful chairwoman and she was a good friend and I thought she was a very nice person. I’m just sorry her tenure as chairman was cut so short. She would have made a real difference,” said House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard. – John McArdle