WASHINGTON — Republican women were invited to wear white to the State of the Union address, but opted out of the Democrats’ display of suffragist white.
The bloc of women wearing white stood and cheered, and even chanted “USA,” when President Trump noted that “no one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.”
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump quipped to the cheering women.
The women in white jumped up for another ovation when Trump recognized the largest number of women elected to Congress.
Members of Congress chant “USA” following President Trump’s remarks on women in Congress. pic.twitter.com/FMf9C9qwhx
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 6, 2019
At a press conference before the presidential address, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) wore a pin once worn by Alice Paul, “one of the suffragists who graduated from Swarthmore College in my district but it was given to her after she chained herself to the White House fence demanding the right to vote.”
“So this is an ongoing struggle and we are here, we are not here to play. We are here to be serious,” Scanlon said.
Eighty-seven percent of women in the House are Democrats, with a GOP decline from 25 women in the last Congress to just 13 now.
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) told reporters that “all women were invited to wear white tonight — we did it on a bipartisan basis.”
“There is a bipartisan women’s caucus. It’s difficult on some issues. The last cycle we did a lot of work on sexual harassment,” she said.
Rep. Rosa de Lauro (D-Conn.) said women in Congress have been able to work across the aisle on numerous occasions, and “work collaboratively on issues that not only affect our state but affect our families in this country.”
“It is doable, and it probably exists at the rank-and-file level in a more robust way than people do understand,” she added.
“Just let me add that last cycle we were able to work together with Republican women on sexual violence in the military, on the sexual assault scandal with the gymnasts. So those are the kinds of issues we make progress,” Frankel said.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) said she’s “told women who are pro-choice and have had — I mean, pro-life — and have had some very deep discussions; I am so pro-choice so every woman in America who wants to be pro-life has that choice.”
“That is what this is about. This is not when you say someone’s pro-choice it is not advocating that women get abortions. It’s advocating that a woman has the right to choose what’s right for her, her body, her family and her God and I will never back down from that,” she continued. “When it comes to our president, I want a president that is going to represent the people of this country first, a president that understands what the truth means, a president that respects the decorum and the processes and our traditions of this great country. I want a president that I can stand up and say I’m proud of even if I disagree with their policy.”