California Rep. Jackie Speier shared a sampling of anonymous harassment victims’ stories, including some who have had “their exclusive parts grabbed on the House flooring.” | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Pictures Two customers of Congress involved in sexual harassment, lawmakers say
Two feminine lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, shared stories at a hearing Tuesday about male customers of Congress who engaged in sexual harassment, though they declined to mention them.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who has long pressed for a stronger congressional anti-harassment system, testified before a residence Administration Committee hearing on misconduct that she is aware of two sitting lawmakers, one in each party, who have perpetrated sexual misdeeds. Before Speier spoke, on the other hand, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said a member “made a decision to expose himself” to a young female aide sent to drop off materials at his house.
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The young staffer was “greeted with a member in a towel,” Comstock told fellow lawmakers, who “invited her in” before committing the offense.
“She kept, she found another work,” Comstock stated. “But that kind of situation – what are we doing here for women now who are working with somebody like that?”
Comstock’s remarks suggest that Speier’s push for broad reform of Congress’ harassment plan, spearheaded in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), will dsicover bipartisan support. The Virginia Republican as well acknowledged the bipartisan persona of the sexual offenses which have walloped Hollywood, the media, and politics, citing prominent alleged perpetrators of most political stripes, including Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and Kevin Spacey.
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Speier shared a good sampling of anonymous harassment victims’ stories, including some who have had “their individual parts grabbed in the House floor.”
But she as well credited colleagues in both celebrations with willingness to undertake a “complex and at times uncomfortable” dialogue about deterring harassment and supporting victims.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the administration panel’s chairman, aligned himself with female lawmakers’ push for change.
“There is absolutely no place for sexual harassment inside our society, period – and especially in Congress,” Harper told fellow customers, urging them to employ an “even higher standard” for their own patterns and that of their workers.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), a veteran work lawyer, proposed that lawmakers be required to pay for resolving workplace misconduct disputes that occur in their offices, a differ from the current system that spends taxpayer cash on confidential settlements.
The Senate last week approved an answer instituting mandatory harassment training for members and aides, a shift from the existing voluntary standard. The House is expected to follow suit but has yet to make the shift, and Speier called for a sweeping overhaul of something that can drive harassment victims to hold back for months, and undergo mandatory mediation, before filing a complaint.
Speier and Gillibrand have yet to pull GOP cosponsors for their broader harassment legislation, which is defined for formal introduction later this week.