Rep. Speier on Alabama, North Korea and how Congress is not 'Animal House'
WASHINGTON — As both major political parties hunt for lessons in Alabama’s special Senate election, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., cautioned on Wednesday that Doug Jones’s shock defeat of Roy Moore is a “unique” result that may not apply to the 2018 midterm contest in general.
“This was unique. I think that the candidate that the Republicans ended up nominating was deeply flawed,” Speier said in an interview for Yahoo News on SiriusXM Channel 124. “The results were that many people didn’t come out to vote as Republicans, or voted for someone else by writing in, or voted for the Democrat.”
Democrats in Congress are “ecstatic about the results,” but “I don’t think we can take anything to the bank,” she said.
Her comments came as Democrats and Republicans sifted through the data behind Jones’s upset victory over Moore in a deep-red state that overwhelmingly voted for President Trump in November 2016.
Regarding North Korea, Speier, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee, said she hoped that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s new outreach to the regime in Pyongyang reflected a true shift in strategy.
“I hope it is an overture from the Trump administration to the North Koreans,” she said. Speier said that past statements from the president that seemed to contradict Tillerson on the merits of diplomacy were “very disconcerting” and warned against using force against the Stalinist state.
“The last thing we want is to engage in military action in North Korea,” she said. “It would be the beginning of just the most destructive era in American, or in global history.”
Instead, she said, “we have got to find a way” for diplomacy, coupled with pressure and help from “frenemies” like China to address the threat from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Speier, who has taken a leading role in confronting the issue of sexual harassment in Congress, said a “bad culture” on Capitol Hill has too often led to abuses.
“When I hear stories of members screaming, and throwing telephones, and throwing things off their desk, I think you know this is unacceptable,” she said. “Sometimes what happens is they come here, and they get kind of puffed up: All of a sudden they’ve got a staff that basically is there to, you know, respond to all of their requests, and laugh at their bad jokes.
“And, you know, before long, they think that they can do things that are just unacceptable in general society,” Speier said.
Still, she said, most members are “very upstanding” and Congress is not “Animal House.”
Speier said that congressional workplace culture has been changing, noting that a recent vote requires sexual harassment prevention training for members and staff.
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