Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Efforts by Education Secretary DeVos to Weaken Policies to Combat Campus Sexual Assault

Washington – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Rep. Susan Davis, Ranking Member of the Education Committee Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training; Rep. Lois Frankel, Co-Chair of the Democratic Womens’ Working Group; Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Co-Chair of the Democratic Womens’ Working Group; Rep. Jackie Speier, Communications and Policy Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group; Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster to respond to reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is moving to weaken federal policies to enforce Title IX and combat campus sexual assault. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you Congresswoman Davis for your leadership on this issue, both as a Member of the Armed Services Committee, working for respect to women in the military, and as a Member of the Education and Workforce Committee, under whose jurisdiction the Education Department Office of Civil Rights falls.  I’m honored to be here, as you indicated, with the Chair of the–the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Women’s Task Force but also as a Vice Chair, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence from Michigan.

I am also pleased to be here with Congresswoman [Suzanne] Bonamici, one Member of the Education and Workforce Committee as well; our newest Member, Nanette Barragan from Los Angeles; Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney who you all know from New York, working so hard for the Women’s Museum; Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, the Chair of our Congressional Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus, Ranking Member, former Chair, of the Rules Committee, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a real fighter for women’s rights; Jackie Speier, who brought us together right before the break to condemn what President Trump said about Mika [Brzezinski]— it was outrageous.  Right before we leave we have a press conference, right as we get back we have a press conference, hopefully we’re not doing this every week.  And again, thank you, [Congresswoman] Susan Davis.

But the point is, and I mention all of my colleagues who are here, I don’t know if they’re going to speak, but it’s all about respect.  As a mother of four daughters, two granddaughters, many grandsons and a son, it’s amazing to me to see the lack of respect some of these people have for women and for girls.  Six years ago, the Obama Administration said ‘enough is enough’ and Joe Biden has been, continues to be a great champion in respecting women and saying ‘It’s not your fault.’

You want the truth to come out, what is it, 95 percent of the time, I’m sure you’ll address that, the truth is that it’s not their fault.  Together, Obama and Biden, they expanded Title IX protections and enforcement.  They gave survivors hope and courage to come forward but now the Trump Administration is dismantling that progress, which include Title IX protections which include transgender students, cutting funding and staff for the Office of Civil Rights.

This is inequality, this is injustice, so my comments are about respect for women and strengthening of the Office of Civil Rights of the Education Department, not weakening it.  Last month marked the 45th anniversary of Title IX.  The stories of how hard it was to pass at the time are legendary, here I won’t go into them, however there has always been this nipping away, with some in Congress who just would like to get rid of it.  The sad truth is that women still have faced equity discrimination and harassment.  Every woman has a right to feel safe on campus.

To the survivors and advocates here that we have been meeting with today, we believe you, we will never stop fighting until we wipe out the scourge of sexual assault wherever it may occur.  Campus sexual assault is an epidemic in America, it is important to note that it is unacceptable that one-in-four women are sexually assaulted on campus.

So thank you, my colleagues, for bringing us together to point out the outrageous statement of Candace Jackson.  The outrageous statement, and I know that there is an apology but that doesn’t erase what is inside that spewed forth yesterday.

I’m pleased now to yield to the distinguished Chair of the Women’s Task Force, Democratic Task Force, Co-Chair of the bipartisan task force, Representative Frankel of Florida.