Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Congresswomen accuse two USA lawmakers of sexual harassment

Capital building with money Debate on tax reform is delaying negotiations on a year-end spending accord. Wikipedia; Ed Uthman Flickr
Sammy Stanley | 15 November, 2017, 02:14

She dropped a bombshell allegation in her testimony, saying that two active members of Congress are known to be sexual harassers.

Later this week, Speier will also introduce legislation to overhaul the process that victims of harassment undergo when they file complaints to the Office of Compliance, which she has called "toothless" and says is created to protect harassers and not the harassed.

Speier sat front and center at a U.S. House hearing on sex harassment and said Congress isn't policing itself almost enough.

With a broadening national spotlight on sexual misconduct in Hollywood, the media and politics, Congress has begun to address the accusations of abuse and demands by more than 1,500 former staffers that comprehensive reforms be instituted.

"In fact there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who serve right now who have been subject to review, or not been subject to review, that have engaged in sexual harassment", said Speier.

Neither Speier nor Comstock identified the male lawmakers, and they didn't specify whether their reports of a male lawmaker exposing himself involved the same man or two different men. "But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

Earlier this month, Ryan called on House members and staffs to step up their sexual harassment training.

The comments came during the House Administration Committee's first hearing to review sexual misconduct policy in the House of Representatives.

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"Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution", Ryan said. 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 lawmaker, Rodney Davis of IL, said addressing the issue of sexual harassment on the Hill is "long overdue" and that Congress must "lead by example".

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.

There is now no requirement for sexual harassment training in the House of Representatives, but individual offices may voluntarily have their staffs attend trainings offered by the Office of Compliance.

Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., said the current sexual harassment training, which isn't mandatory, is underutilized.

Barbara Comstock, R-10th, said Tuesday that a sitting member of Congress exposed himself to a young female staffer who then quit her job. "By the way. the general counsel of the House is representing the harasser".

"Leadership within each office is also important, and letting the employees know where they can go to complain is vitally important", Childs Wallace told lawmakers.

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