Paul Ryan Sets Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for House
Paul Ryan Sets Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for House
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images The Speaker's rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives
15 November, 2017, 00:42
According to Comstock, when the aide arrived, the lawmaker opened the door only wearing a towel, invited the staffer inside and then exposed himself. And Tuesday's hearing took place just a day after a woman came forward to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of assaulting her when she was a teen.
She did not name the lawmakers mentioned in her testimony, citing the non-disclosure agreements she wants to eliminate.
"There are two members of congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve, that have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier told the panel.
Neither Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, nor Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican, named the lawmakers in question during a hearing in the House administration committee, but the accounts reverberated on Capitol Hill, where former and current aides have described sexual harassment as "pervasive".
Speier, who has proposed legislation that would change the House's policy and make sexual harassment training mandatory for members and their staff, also said she has heard stories of "victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor". With few exceptions, every person said they have personally experienced sexual harassment on the Hill or know of others who have.
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.
"What are we doing for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?" she asked.
The House hearing addressed the need to update the chamber's policies on misconduct claims, and bipartisan calls to implement mandatory sexual harassment training for both lawmakers and staff.
Under the current system, staffers must undergo months of counseling and mediation with the employing office before they can formally file a complaint.
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.' But he expressed concern that the increasing focus on gender hostility in the workplace could create unintended consequences, including 'that some offices may just take a short cut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues'.
As for Moore, he has denied the allegations against him, but his support among mainstream Republicans has plummeted one month before the December 12 special election.
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