In February, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), held one of the more notable congressional hearings of the last several years. Issa, hoping to advance the Republican campaign to restrict women’s access to contraception, held a hearing on birth control, but the opening panel was made up entirely of conservative men.
It led Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to ask a now-famous question: “Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one, single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need coverage for basic preventive health care services.”
Six weeks later, Issa is apparently still unhappy about it.
In a March 21 story published in the Rancho Santa Fe Review, Issa said, “Carolyn Maloney then made the famous statement, where are the women? That was an outright lie, and she knew it when she said it.”
Actually, it wasn’t a “lie” at all. When Maloney looked at the witness table, it was male-only. Democrats had invited a woman – her name is Sandra Fluke; you may have heard of her – but Issa refused to allow her to participate in the hearing. Republicans scrambled to add more gender diversity to the second panel, which spoke later in the day, but when Maloney asked where the women were, it was because there were only men testifying on women’s access to contraception at the time.
Issa, thankfully, apologized to Maloney yesterday for the “outright lie” allegation, and Maloney accepted it, but the New York congressman still spoke on the House floor yesterday to address the matter.
You’ll notice that Maloney was joined by quite a few friends – i.e., other Democratic House members – who were there to show their solidarity.
As for Issa’s regret, the congresswoman explained that she’s not the only one who deserves an apology: “In the fallout of that unfortunate hearing, women were called far worse than liars. I know what I said that day and I know it to be true but I do think the Democratic witness, Sandra Fluke, and the women of America, are owed an apology – an apology for denying them a voice – an apology for denying them a seat at the table.”