Underwood, 33, is the youngest African American woman ever elected to Congress and was Hill’s roommate while they were serving together in Washington. Speaking with TIME an event for TIME 100 Next, said that while all human beings are “imperfect,” the consequences are different for a generation that grew up online comes to office.
“I think that young women are always treated differently in politics,” Underwood said. “And we have never seen this before as a country—ever—because we’ve never had this kind of cohort with millennial women in Congress. Real women with lives, pasts and experiences.”
Hill, 32, resigned in October after allegations emerged that she had an improper relationship with a congressional staffer. Hill denied the relationship, but admitted to a separate relationship with a member of her campaign staff.
In her final speech after her resignation, Hill said that she had resigned due to a “double standard” for women. She has criticized her former partner, whom she is divorcing, and claimed that he leaked nude photos of her.
Underwood said she believes there will be a reckoning about the way scandals involving candidates and elected officials are treated after there is a national conversation about Hill’s resignation.
“This is what happens when you have real people in government. We are all imperfect human beings,” says Underwood.
Throughout her first year in office, Underwood was distinguished by her focus on public health issues, including her effort to address gun violence after a mass shooter killed five people, including four of her constituents, at a workplace near her district. Underwood, a registered nurse who has spoken about her experience living with a chronic healthcare condition, has also emerged as a champion of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy, the Affordable Care Act. While several leading Democratic presidential candidates have advocated for a Medicare for All Policy, Underwood has instead worked to defend and strengthen the existing law.