Patricia Nell Scott Schroeder (born July 30, 1940) is an American former politician who represented Colorado in the United States House of Representatives from 1973–1997. A member of the Democratic Party, Schroeder was the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado.
Born in Portland, Oregon, she moved to Des Moines, Iowa, with her family as a child. After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1958, she left Des Moines and attended the University of Minnesota, where she majored in history. She graduated with a B.A. in 1961 and later earned a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1964. Moving to Denver, Colorado, she worked for the National Labor Relations Board from 1964 to 1966. She later worked for Planned Parenthood and taught in Denver's public schools. Patricia Schroeder is a member of Chi Omega sorority.
In 1972, Schroeder won election for Congress in Colorado's first district, based in Denver, over freshman Republican incumbent James McKevitt. At age 32, Schroeder is the second-youngest woman ever elected to that body. McKevitt, previously the Denver district attorney, had been the first Republican to represent the district, regarded as the most Democratic in the Rockies, since Dean M. Gillespie in 1947. Schroeder won by just over 8,000 votes, but was re-elected eleven more times without a contest nearly as close, and served 24 years as a U.S. Representative.
Interestingly enough, she found out years later that during that very first congressional campaign, the FBI had had her and her staff under surveillance. The bureau had paid a man named Timothy Redfern to break into her home, and she also noticed that someone had been rifling through her car's glovebox. The FBI amassed a 60-page file on her (which she obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request). Schroeder said that as a taxpayer, she was enraged to learn this, and wondered why the FBI couldn't have found a simpler way to get information on her.
While in Congress, she became the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. She was also a Congress member of the original Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families that was established in 1983. Known in her early tenure for balancing her congressional work with motherhood, even bringing diapers to the floor of Congress, she was known for advocacy on work-family issues, a prime mover behind the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the 1985 Military Family Act. Schroeder was also involved in reform of Congress itself, working to weaken the long-standing control of committees by their chairs, sparring with Speaker Carl Albert over congressional "hideaways," and questioning why Congress members who lived in their offices should not be taxed for the benefit.
She chaired the 1988 presidential campaign of Gary Hart in 1987 until his withdrawal, at which point she briefly entered the race, before announcing her own withdrawal in an emotional press conference on September 28, 1987. According to her, she received hate mail because of her tears even twenty years later. She said to journalists she used to keep a "crying file" on weepy politician episodes, but it got so huge she threw it out.
She did not seek a thirteenth term in 1996, and was succeeded by state house minority whip Diana DeGette, a fellow Democrat. In her farewell press conference, she stated that she had "spent 24 years in a federal institution." The humorous title for her memoir, published in 1998, is 24 years of House Work...and the Place Is Still a Mess.
Publishing industry service
Schroeder was named president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers in 1997 and served in that post for 11 years. She has been a vocal proponent of stronger copyright law, supporting the government in Eldred v. Ashcroft and opposing Google's plan to digitize books and post limited content online. She has publicly criticized libraries for distributing electronic content without compensation to publishers, writers and others in the publishing industry, telling the Washington Post, "They aren't rich...they have mortgages." At the same time, she has tried to make the publishing industry more socially responsible, cooperating with organizations for the blind and others with reading difficulties to help make materials more accessible to them, particularly by encouraging publishers to release books so that nonprofit groups can transfer them to electronic formats. She has also sat on the panel of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, a $25,000 award designed to recognize the protection of free speech as it applies to the written word.
In July 2012, Schroeder stepped out of retirement to narrate a children's book app, "The House that Went on Strike", a rhyming, interactive and musical tale that teaches kids (and their parents) respect for the household. Schroeder was chosen to narrate because of her stature as a celebrated House mom, and the metaphorical title of her memoir. Schroeder wrote about her experience narrating the story, and offered her perspective about kids book apps in a July 24, 2012 column on The Huffington Post. Additionally, Schroeder and the book were featured in a profile on Wired. Schroeder's work on the app was praised in a favorable review on Smart Apps for Kids, one of the leading app review sites for kids.
Private citizenship in Florida
Following her tenure at AAP, Schroeder and her husband relocated to Celebration, Florida, a master-planned community built by the Walt Disney Company. Schroeder is a resident of the 8th congressional district, and in the 2010 general election came out in strong support of Democrat Alan Grayson for re-election to Congress, citing in particular the candidates' differences on women's issues. Grayson lost his re-election campaign. She subsequently endorsed him again ahead of the 2012 congressional elections, during which he was returned to Congress. She currently sits on the board of The League of Women Voters of Florida.
Cultural references and influence
Schroeder was lampooned on Saturday Night Live in 1988 in a skit where Nora Dunn, acting as Schroeder, repeatedly burst into tears while moderating a Democratic primary debate. 
During the 1995 budget debates, after Democrats claimed that Social Security payments would leave seniors with no choice but to eat dog food, Rush Limbaugh said in jest that he was going to get his mother a can opener. Apparently unaware of the intended humor, Schroeder denounced Limbaugh's remark on the floor of the House.
Schroeder is in the National Women's Hall of Fame. She was also honored by the National Research Center for Women and Families in 2006 for her lifetime of achievements with a Foremother Award.
Schroeder coined the famous phrase "Teflon President" to describe Ronald Reagan. She was frying eggs in a Teflon pan one morning when the idea came to her. Publisher's Weekly reported that in her memoir she mentioned Richard Nixon, who wore makeup all the time, by saying "I had an incredible urge to wash his face". She relayed that actor John Wayne had once offered her a cigarette lighter engraved with the inscription "Fuck communism--John Wayne". The office of the clerk of the House of Representatives shares that "from her seat on the Armed Services Committee, she once told Pentagon officials that if they were women, they would always be pregnant because they never said 'no'." During the debate whether to pass DOMA, Schroeder said in opposition, "You can't amend the Constitution with a statute. Everybody knows that. This is just stirring the political waters and seeing what hate you can unleash."