Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Women in white: Democrat bloc overshadows Donald Trump at State of the Union address

In a moment of unmistakable defiance directed at the president, the group celebrated record numbers of women in Congress

A bloc of Democratic Congresswomen wearing white sat together on Tuesday in defiance of US President Donald Trump as he gave his second State of the Union address, and the biggest moment of the speech was reserved for them.

The stunning show of solidarity paid tribute to the women who came before them and acknowledged that there are now more women representatives in the house than ever before.

"Tonight the @HouseDemWomen are wearing suffragette white to remind the president that we – and the rights our ancestors fought for – aren't going anywhere," tweeted House Democrat Val Demings.

In the chamber, there has long been a growing gender divide with Democratic women outnumbering Republicans. The House now has more than 100 women in office. But the vast majority of them, about 90, are Democrats. House Republican women count just over a dozen.

Many of the women have railed against the president and sat silent as he spoke of an improved economy and portrayed the state of the union as being in good health.

But the group burst into life when Mr Trump spoke about high numbers of women entering the workforce.

“No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,” he said.

As he uttered those words, applause began to louden and the women leapt to their feet, pointing at each other and throwing their fists into the air.

“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Mr Trump said.

Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker and rival to Mr Trump, also wore white and beamed as the women celebrated. Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, wore black and also smiled in reaction to the group's joy.

“All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” Mr Trump said. Amid more applause, he continued, “Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this.”

“And exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before,” he said.

Among them was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also wore white last month when the 29-year-old was sworn into office, now a prominent member of the freshmen class.

A few of the Democrats' male colleagues joined them in white. Rep. Dean Phillips, a newly elected Democrat from Minnesota, wore a white jacket, as did Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois. Many other men wore white ribbons of support.

Updated: February 6, 2019 12:35 PM

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