There are 103 women in the 116th Congress, making it the most female Congress ever. And yesterday during President Donald Trump’s State Of The Union Address the large cohort of women certainly made their presence known.
With dozens of Democrat Congresswomen wearing suffragette white in support of women across the country (Republican women were also invited to do so), they formed a visible block of difference — and some resistance — in the crowd.
That meant Trump did, at times, lose control over the cheers and celebrations occurring during his speech.
Much of it came when he spoke about the rise in women’s workforce participation.
“No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, with 58% of new jobs going to women,” Trump said.
There was a pause, before it became evident that many jobs (although not the new ones Trump was referring to) going to women had actually occurred in Congress. Much of the audience turned to the women in white in the crowd and applauded their presence — and those wearing the white stood in a spontaneous ovation and celebrated.
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump said in response. “Thank you, thank you very much.”
Moving on to say that there are now more women in the workforce than ever before (to more noise from the crowd), Trump then declared, “Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this”.
“Exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than ever before.”
That comment resulted in more cheers, more standing, more high-fives and even chants of ‘U.S.A’. It came from both lawmaker sides, with Ivanka Trump also standing and clapping.
But as Democrat Ann Kuster noted, Trump got “ticked off” at the commotion, telling The Hill that “I think he caught on that the joke was on him.”
“We wanted to draw attention to the contrast of our caucus that reflects the diversity of the American people,” she said. “And we were hoping that just by wearing white, that the cameras would pick that up.”
The most visible woman in white was speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, who was an absolute joy to watch standing behind Trump and issuing a number of memeable facial expressions and clapping movements during the almost 90-minute long speech.
Her best moment came in the form of what’s been described as a sarcastic “clap back”, when Trump called for an end to the politics of revenge — a big call given how he’s used Twitter to abuse his enemies and has just shut the government down for 35 days because he could’t negotiate a deal on funding the wall. “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and common good,” he said.
Watch for yourself.
This Nancy Pelosi: EVERYTHING. 🙌🏼😂 pic.twitter.com/FlnybjYDm1
— 𝖑𝖎𝖑𝖔 🍀 (@jeonleoo) February 6, 2019
Following Trump’s speech, Stacey Abrams delivered the Democrat response, becoming the first black woman ever to do so. She talked affordable healthcare, the push to ease “crippling” education loans, the expansion of voting rights and the need to hold “everyone from the highest office to our own families” accountable for racists words and actions.” Unlike Trump, Abrams mentioned climate change.
Abrams lost her bid to become Georgia’s governor in 2018, but is widely perceived to be a 2020 Senate candidate, and some have called on her to run for president.