Heard on the Hill

Trump to See Black at SOTU Because of What He Probably Won’t Talk About

Chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group: ‘All our fears have come true’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., takes a group photo of Democratic women wearing all white for President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic women want President Donald Trump to see a sea of black when he looks at the crowd in the House chamber during his State of the Union  address on Tuesday.

“We were very concerned about what was going to happen in the Trump administration to women, and all our fears have come true, unfortunately,” Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group. “There’s a lot of anxiety, as you can expect, among the Democrats — actually, among the country — about what’s been going on.”

The group has invited all lawmakers, men and women, Democrats and Republicans, to wear black to show solidarity with victims of sexual harassment.

“This is probably an area that the president’s not going to talk about,” Frankel said.

[Frankel: ‘2018 Will Be the Year of the Woman’]

Watch: House Harassment Bill on Fast Track, but Maybe Moving Too Fast?

She added that wearing black isn’t intended to be a protest.

“How can I say this respectfully? I can’t. He’s so much about himself, he’s so egotistical. His whole speech will probably be about himself. I could probably tell you right now what he’s going to say,” the congresswoman said. “This is not about him. This is about our solidarity or our expression of showing that we support people who have had the courage to come forward and people who want to have the opportunity to take care of their families without having someone abuse their power over them.”

The Florida Democrat stressed that combating sexual harassment has been a bipartisan issue in Congress.

“This issue is much bigger than just one party,” she said. “We had some pretty good bipartisan efforts, at least on this new rule. There’s a new bill that’s going to be probably voted on when we get back [from recess] about how to handle sexual harassment.”

On why she chose black, she walked over to her desk and picked up the Time magazine Person of the Year issue, which featured victims of sexual harassment who spoke up as part of the #MeToo movement wearing black.

Actors at the Golden Globes on Jan. 7 also wore black to show solidarity with sexual harassment victims and to speak to other issues like equal pay. Frankel said her group was talking about which color to wear to Tuesday’s  State of the Union before the awards show.

Democratic women wore white at Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress last year because it was the color of suffrage.

“We decided again that we would be here in unity and to make some kind of statement,” Frankel said. “It’s not about sex, it’s about having people be able to, men and women, go to work, work side by side without harassment, getting paid for what they do, not based on sex. It’s also about speaking truth to power.”

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