House to require training to prevent sexual harassment

Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Sexual Harassment in Congress

Brendan Hoffman Getty Images The Speaker's rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives

Earlier this month, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), now a member of the House Democratic leadership, told The Associated Press that a male lawmaker had repeatedly ogled her and at one point inappropriately touched her on the House floor.

The move comes days after the Senate unanimously approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment. All they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment.

Comstock - who worked on Capitol Hill as a staffer early in her career and served in the Virginia House of Delegates before being elected to represent Northern Virginia's 10th District past year - said Congress needs more training and stronger safeguards in place to ensure women don't have to give up their careers to escape sexually aggressive behavior.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Virginia), a member of the committee that Speier was speaking to, shared a story she had heard of a congressman exposing himself to a female staffer after the staffer dropped materials off at his residence.

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday announced that members of the House of Representatives and staff will have to undergo mandatory training regarding sexual harassment.

Comstock said the name of the lawmaker she mentioned wasn't disclosed to her, but emphasized that naming names is an important step in promoting accountability and encouraging victims to come forward.

A Republican congresswoman said Tuesday she was told recently by a trusted source that a member of Congress exposed himself to a staffer.

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.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) noted that "sexual harassment is a serious problem in our society and Congress is not immune from this issue".

In October, Speier shared her own story of being harassed as a congressional staffer with the hashtag #MeTooCongress in an effort to raise awareness for the issue and call attention to a need for legislation. A petition calling for Congress to make training mandatory has gained more than 1,500 signatures from former Hill staffers.

The California representative did not name either of the lawmakers in question.

Gloria Lett, counsel for the Office of House Employment Counsel, replied that such discrimination is illegal.

"They want the system fixed and the perpetrators held accountable", she said. One Republican has suggested that if elected, Moore should be expelled from the Senate.

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