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House to require training to prevent sexual harassment
15 November 2017, 12:40 | Terri Saunders
At hearing on sexual harassment in Congress, Virginia Rep. Comstock tells story of sitting member exposing himself to staffer
U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (D-Va.) said the U.S. House should consider a prohibition on members of Congress having sexual relationships with their own staffers.
"In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve, who have been subject to review or have not been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier said in her testimony before the House Administration Committee, which held a hearing on sexual harassment in Congress Tuesday morning.
Amid a daily deluge of stories about harassment in the workplace, female members of Congress detailed incidents of sexual misconduct involving current lawmakers at a House hearing Tuesday on how to prevent such abuse.
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.
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. One Republican has suggested that if elected, Moore should be expelled from the Senate.
Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
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She is also crafting another bill to overhaul the process available for staff to file harassment complaints with Office of Compliance, which she says discourages victims from coming forward. However, Gloria Lett, counsel at the Office of House Employment, who testified at Tuesday's hearing, said that she believed in the process and thought it worked "very effectively". Last month, Rep. Speier publicly shared her story of being sexually harassed by the chief of staff in her office when she was a staffer.
Between 1997 and 2014, a little known Congressional fund paid out $15.2 million to 235 people who made sexual harassment claims in Congress.
She also noted that cases between staff members and lawmakers are "very rare" and that mediation cases are overwhelmingly between two staff members. "All they ask for in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment", Speier testified.
Watch Speier's comments below, via ABC News.
"If someone wants to form a complaint they have to go through a month of legal counseling".
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