Tags: sexual harassment | misconduct | allegations | bipartisan | congress

Bipartisan Bill Revamps Sexual Harassment Settlements in Congress

Image: Bipartisan Bill Revamps Sexual Harassment Settlements in Congress
Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss. (Tom Williams/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 18 January 2018 03:15 PM

Bipartisan legislation released Thursday would require members of Congress, instead of taxpayers, to pay any settlements over sexual harassment themselves, a change to a secretive system that has been in place for decades, NBC News reported.

The Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act is a result of work by both parties, after sexual harassment allegations have led to resignation or retirement for half a dozen lawmakers in Congress, the report said.

The legislation also provides more rights and resources for victims when they file a sexual harassment complaint, and aims to make the system more publicly transparent, NBC reported.

The legislation "goes a long way toward preventing future bad behavior," said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., in an interview with NBC News before the release of the bill.

"What we want to do is create — and I think we're seeing it already — a sea change in the culture in the members and the staff," said Harper, who helped write the legislation with Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pa.

"It's been a very bipartisan and cooperative effort," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in the report.

The bill bans lawmakers from using taxpayer money for settlements. Money paid out by taxpayers for sexual harassment settlements hit $199,000 in the previous 10 years, according to a December NBC News report.

The accused must reimburse the U.S. Treasury within 90 days of a settlement or face wage garnishment. If that does not provide enough funding, a member's retirement account and Social Security could also be garnished, the report said.

"We're going to wipe this kind of behavior out from a financial standpoint if nothing else," Speier said in the NBC report.

"Those who have gone through this process have felt a little overwhelmed. Now you've got somebody who's got your interest at heart," Harper said in the report.

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Changing to a secretive system that has been in place for decades, bipartisan legislation would require members of Congress, instead of taxpayers, to pay any settlements over sexual harassment themselves, NBC News reported Thursday.
sexual harassment, misconduct, allegations, bipartisan, congress
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2018-15-18
Thursday, 18 January 2018 03:15 PM
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