Speier: US House Paid $15 Million to Its Secret Sexual Harassment Victims

Wednesday, 15 Nov, 2017

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.

The move came hours after two female lawmakers testified about sexual misconduct involving unnamed sitting members of Congress.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a member on the committee, also said she had heard of a congressman who is now serving who had exposed himself to a young female staffer.

The hearing was in light of sexual harassment revelations that have shaken workplaces, Hollywood and media companies. He opened the door in only a towel, invited the staffer inside, and proceeded to expose himself.

Todd then asked if the lawmakers who have settled should be outed retroactively, as this would provide transparency for the use of taxpayer money.

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.

If you think the process is set up to try to discourage victims from reporting what has happened, and think it's nearly as if the process had been set up by harassers - Jake Tapper thinks so too, and said as much on his CNN show.

Mrs Speier has previously called Congress a "breeding ground for a hostile work environment".

"A chief of staff held my face, kissed me, stuck his tongue in my mouth", she said in a video posted to her YouTube page.

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

More than 1,500 former congressional employees have signed a petition calling on Congress to mandate anti-harassment training.

"Sexual harassment is often about power", said Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose.

Gloria Lett, counsel for the Office of House Employment Counsel, testified that she had also heard similar concerns, but hiring based on gender would be discrimination and therefore illegal.

The Committee on House Administration is now reviewing the policies in place to address sexual harassment within the Congress.

He added that the committee would review other recommendations made during the hearing.

Congressional interns and fellows are not eligible for this resolution process.