Congresswoman warns of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill

Congresswoman warns of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill

"In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve. who have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier said.

That included "harassers exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor".

"Many of us in Congress know what it's like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long", she said in an October video encouraging other staffers to tell their stories. "All they ask in return is that we fix our abusive system and hold perpetrators accountable".

Two female lawmakers accused sitting congressmen, whose identities they did not disclose, of sexual misconduct during a House hearing on Tuesday.

She was "greeted with the member in a towel... who then invited her in", Comstock told the committee, in what appeared to be an account of a third lawmaker abusing a female staffer.

On Tuesday, CNN reported the existence of a so-called "creep list," an informal list of male lawmakers and staffers who have sexually harassed or abused their colleagues, that is passed around Capitol Hill by word of mouth.

"I have had numerous meetings and phone calls with staff members - both present and former, women and men - who have been subjected to this inexcusable and oftentimes illegal behavior", said Speier.

In her prepared remarks to the committee, Speier said her office had been "inundated" with calls from current and former staffers who recounted being subjected to inappropriate comments and sexual assault.

Lawmakers in both parties had already expressed support for mandatory sexual harassment awareness training, which now is only voluntary for legislative branch staffers.

The House Administration Committee held a hearing today on sexual harassment in Congress, calling on House members to testify of their experiences.

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"But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

A number of both male and female lawmakers have publicly supported efforts to reform sexual harassment policies in Congress.

Optional sexual harassment training is available to lawmakers and staff through the Office of Compliance, Office of House Employment Counsel and House Chief Administrative Officer.

"Is it any wonder that many staffers never file formal complaints?"

"This member asked a staffer to bring them over some materials to their residence".

There is no requirement that congressmembers and staffers undergo sexual harassment training, but House leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agree that the training program should be improved. The House may soon follow.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) noted that "sexual harassment is a serious problem in our society and Congress is not immune from this issue". House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also said that Capitol Hill workplace sexual harassment policies "need to be changed".

But Comstock said it's critical for male members to take part in the conversation.

Though neither woman named any of those accused of sexual harassment, Comstock made clear that she isn't opposed to it, saying, "I think it's important we name names".

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