Thursday morning, as the 113th Congress prepared to be sworn into office, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a photo opportunity on the steps of the House of Representatives with Democratic women from the caucus. Dozens of members turned out, presenting a diverse portrait of a group of women Pelosi proudly boasts about on a regular basis.
But when it came time to snap the photos Thursday morning, a few of her colleagues were late.
A round of photos began on time when suddenly Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin appeared at the top of the steps and shouted, “I’m coming!” to the amusement of her colleagues and members of the public who had gathered to take in the scene. The women waited patiently while Moore made her way down the steps and joined her colleagues at the back of the cluster.
Another round of photos ensued. Moments later, it was over. Some lawmakers stood around congratulating each another while the press quickly disbursed amid below-freezing temperatures.
Then Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared, looking disappointed that she was late for the picture. This reporter also spotted Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., exiting the House carriage entrance beneath the House steps moments after the picture ended. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Yvette Clarke of New York also were late.
Rather than leave them out, Pelosi’s press office decided to add them to an updated version to distribute so that photo editors covering Congress would have a full class photo. That photo was also posted on Pelosi’s Facebook page.
A Democratic leadership aide explained that the four women were digitally added because they were present at the Capitol. Another Democratic woman, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who missed the picture because she was attending her mother’s funeral in California, was not added in post-production.
At Pelosi’s news conference today, a reporter from the Associated Press asked Pelosi whether she was aware the picture had been doctored and if it presented an accurate historical record of the moment.
“It’s an accurate historical record of who the Democratic women of Congress are. It also is an accurate record that it was freezing cold and our members had been waiting a long time for everyone to arrive and that they had to get back into the building to greet constituents, family members, to get ready to go to the floor,” Pelosi said. “It wasn’t like we had the rest of the day to stand there, but it was an accurate reflection of who the 61 members, Democratic women members of Congress are and not only were they women, but they reflected the beautiful diversity of our country.”