Female Lawmakers Say At Least Two In Congress Have Committed Sexual Harassment

Cheryl Sanders
November 15, 2017

"From comments like 'Are you going to be a good girl?,' to harassers exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor, women and men have trusted me with their stories", Speier said. Then, she said, they are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before moving on to mediation. "All they ask for in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment", Speier testified.

She disclosed her own experiences with sexual harassment as a young congressional staffer in a YouTube video last week.

That staffer quit her job, Comstock said.

"What are we doing here for women right now", she added, "who are dealing with someone like that?"

In order to fix the problem, members called for mandatory in-person sexual harassment training and a regular climate survey of members and staff.

House lawmakers on Tuesday will review the chamber's sexual harassment policies in the wake of sweeping allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment that have rocked powerful institutions and industries across the country.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. Tuesday's hearing, held to review Congress' policies regarding sexual harassment, detailed a convoluted process for reporting such incidents that often discourages accusers from coming forward.

Speier has introduced legislation to require annual sexual harassment awareness training for lawmakers and staff, who would have to file a certificate of completion with the House Ethics Committee. In recent days Alabama's Republican nominee for Senate has come under fire after several women have come forward with accounts of sexually inappropriate behavior or, in at least one case, assault, at Moore's hand when they were teenagers. One Republican has suggested that if elected, Moore should be expelled from the Senate. "By the way. the general counsel of the House is representing the harasser".

Barbara Childs Wallace, the chair of the Office of Compliance's board of directors, called the mandatory training that lawmakers are calling for a necessary first step, but said more changes are needed to improve the culture on Capitol Hill.

Many lawmakers and victims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill have complained about the process by which sexual harassment reports are handled at the Capitol.

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