Heard on the Hill

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

Congresswoman says Golden Globes was a preview of what Democratic Women’s Working Group plans this year

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., center, is hopeful that 2018 will be a big year for women. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Women in Congress fighting to bring attention to sexual harassment got a boost from women in Hollywood at the Golden Globes on Sunday.

“I just texted my girlfriends in Congress, ‘I’m for Oprah!’” Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, said Monday.

When Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her contributions to the world of entertainment on Sunday at the annual awards ceremony, it instantly created buzz that she was running for president.

“I think it would be fantastic,” Frankel said.

Other actresses and actors wore black to the awards to show solidarity against sexual harassment, and some brought women’s rights activists as their guests on the red carpet.

“I can tell you this — we couldn’t have asked for a better preview of what we plan to do this year,” Frankel said. “They brought in some of the activists, which we plan to do.”

Frankel is leading the working group’s push for hearings in Congress about sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

“I’m hoping that we will have hearings throughout the next few months. That will give an opportunity to hear testimony from women, whether they are farmworkers or domestic workers or coal miners,” she said. “We’ve heard a lot from the women who, I would say, are in the more glamorous professions, which has been a great way to kick off the ‘Me Too’ movement.”

Aside from bringing activists to Capitol Hill, Frankel wants to hear from women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.

‘There’s a Big Step Between Marching and Running’: Former Congresswomen On Getting Women to Run

“We will pursue having a hearing for the Trump accusers,” she said. “We’re still trying to get the Oversight [and Government Reform] Committee to undertake it, which I think is the proper committee to do this because they have subpoena power, members of both parties. That is really what that committee is structured to do.”

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy, has not been receptive.

More than 150 members of Congress, led by Frankel and Democratic Reps. Brenda Lawrence and Jackie Speier, have signed a letter requesting Gowdy pursue an investigation into abuse allegations against Trump. The South Carolina Republican denied the request on Dec. 12.

Frankel, Lawrence and Speier wrote back, telling Gowdy that his “reluctance to investigate sends the absolute wrong message. It tells women that powerful leaders are unwilling to investigate this serious misconduct and creates a chilling effect on victims coming forward.”

“If the chairman continues to deny a request, we will continue to look for other vehicles,” Frankel said Monday.

She is hopeful this year will be a big one for women.

The number of women in Congress increased last week when Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, was sworn in to replace Al Franken, who was accused of sexual harassment.

“I think 2018 will be the year of the woman. I don’t think there’s any question about it. We have more woman candidates, at least the Democrats, running in the House,” Frankel said.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.