Paul Ryan calls for sexual-harassment prevention training for all of Congress

As accusations of sexual harassment mount against male staffers and lawmakers in Congress, lawmakers in both parties are calling for new anti-harassment training and dramatic reforms to the process for reporting complaints. The proposals emerged following numerous former and current women lawmakers describing harassment that they experienced on the job.
By Mae Owen | Nov 08, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wi.) urged all other representatives Friday to undergo training on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment. Ryan's request, which he issued in an email, followed a week of testimonies by current and former women lawmakers who said that male staffers and representatives had harassed them.

"In recent weeks, reports of sexual harassment by public figures have been deeply disturbing to say the least. I have heard from members with real concerns about the House's policies," the email stated.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that a congressman "propositioned" her repeatedly when she was a newly elected member of Congress. Former representatives Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) Also shared stories of inappropriate behavior that they experienced on the Hill.

The problems aren't limited to the House. Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she endured harassment during her Senate career.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Neb.) asked the Senate Rules Committee in writing this week to make harassment training mandatory for all U.S. senators. Harassment training is currently voluntary only.

Mandatory harassment training is part of a bill that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently announced she would introduce. Gillibrand said her bill will also restructure the investigation process for harassment complaints and designate a new officer position to handle those complaints.

Currently, a woman lawmaker who wishes to report harassment must go through a months-long process of mediation and counseling. The office that handles complaints will only then take up the case and settle it quietly out of court.



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