What’s going on?
Women in the Senate are standing together, putting pressure on Senate leadership to pass legislation to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in congressional offices.
In the #MeToo era, countless tragic stories of sexual harassment are finally making their way into the open. A number of lawmakers have been forced to resign, following public allegations – from Al Franken to Trent Franks, who were both accused of sexual misconduct allegations, and even Elizabeth Esty, who ultimately decided to retire after it came out that she didn’t protect her female staffers from her abusive and violent former chief of staff.
Why is Senate action needed?
To help prevent and better handle cases of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, in an effort pushed by Rep. Barbara Comstock, the House approved changes to the Congressional Accountability Act in February of this year. Congress’s bill, H.R. 4924, alters the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to require members to reimburse the Treasury Department when they are involved in settlements; automatically refers cases that have settled to the House Ethics Committee; extends workplace protections to unpaid staffers, including interns; gives staffers the ability to file a lawsuit at the same time as they file a complaint; and improves record-keeping.
While the House has moved forward, the Senate has yet to take any similar actions to protect Senate staffers.
Now what happens?
Now we’ll see if Senate leadership decides to bring up the House bill for a vote on the Senate floor, which will codify any changes to how their chamber of Congress handles sexual harassment and discrimination in Senate offices.
This piece originally appeared in WFW’s Newsletter: Weekly Wins, Volume 10.
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