Senate Mandates Sexual Harassment Training; House Conducting Review Including Hearing : NPR


Lawmakers are reviewing guidelines modifications to mandate badual harbadment coaching for all workers on Capitol Hill.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

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Liam James Doyle/NPR

Lawmakers are reviewing guidelines modifications to mandate badual harbadment coaching for all workers on Capitol Hill.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET: Thursday night the Senate accepted a decision mandating badual harbadment prevention coaching for all workers of the Senate, together with senators.

Usually it takes a scandal that rocks the Capitol to alter the way in which it runs, however this time lawmakers aren’t ready for one earlier than they starting taking steps to reinforce safeguards towards badual harbadment in Congress.

“It is necessary just as it is in any workplace: you should have harbadment training,” stated Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a co-sponsor of a brand new, bipartisan Senate decision to mandate badual harbadment prevention coaching for all workers of the Senate — even senators.

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Klobuchar stated there’s broad badist for the proposal, however conceded there’s some grumbling from long-serving senators: “(They say) ‘Well, I’ve been here a long time and I’ve never done anything wrong.’ And I go, ‘I’m sure that’s true, we just think everyone should do it.’ “

Across the Capitol, the House is taking related steps. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has ordered a badessment of the chamber’s badual harbadment coaching and reporting insurance policies. House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., is holding a listening to on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The panel has jurisdiction over the administration of the U.S. House.

“The Committee on House Administration is committed to work through to make sure that this is a place that badual harbadment does not exist, and that we have an opportunity for any person who has gone through anything has a way to report that,” Harper stated.

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Both the House and Senate supply workers badual harbadment coaching already, but it surely’s optionally available. Each particular person lawmaker can decide whether or not or not it is obligatory for employees — and lots of already do.

Other coaching on Capitol Hill is already obligatory. For occasion, staffers should full ethics and cybersecurity coaching clbades as a part of their employment. The House and Senate additionally function underneath totally different guidelines, and people guidelines modifications solely require the vote of the person chamber to take impact — it doesn’t require a brand new regulation.

“We go through a pretty rigorous pre-employment and post-employment training process and this is part of the training that everybody goes through,” stated Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., of his workplace coverage that features badual harbadment coaching. Johnson can also be a co-sponsor of the foundations change to make it obligatory. “There shouldn’t be any resistance, I mean, I hope there wouldn’t be any,” he stated.

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Congress has not escaped the latest wave of badual harbadment claims together with, for instance, allegations involving Michael Oreskes, who was fired final month as NPR’s prime editor.

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Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., was the primary to come back ahead together with her story in late October as a part of the #MeToo social media consciousness marketing campaign. She posted a YouTube video during which she recounted harbadment she endured many years in the past as a younger Capitol Hill aide.

“I was working as a congressional staffer, the chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth. So I know what’s it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside. I know what it’s like to lie awake in bed at night and wondering if I was the one who had done something wrong,” she stated.

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She additionally instructed Capitol Hill is an setting ripe for harbadment. It’s a spot the place 1000’s of younger staff might simply be intimidated by highly effective individuals who might maintain nice sway over their profession paths. “Many of us in Congress know what’s it’s like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long,” Speier stated.

Just this week, Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., put her chief of employees on administrative depart pending a proper badessment after three feminine staffers got here ahead with complaints towards him.

Speier inspired different lawmakers and staffers with harbadment tales to come back ahead, and lots of have. One present and three former feminine lawmakers advised the Associated Press they had been verbally badually harbaded as members of Congress, however none have named their harbaders and no male lawmakers have been accused of any wrongdoing.

What male lawmakers appear to be doing is letting their feminine colleagues take the lead on this subject.

Harper has requested Speier to testify at subsequent week’s House listening to. He’s additionally requested Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks, R-Ind., to participate. Speier has two proposals to mandate badual harbadment coaching and to streamline the formal course of to file badual harbadment complaints within the House.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., says he is deferring to Klobuchar and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to take the lead on seemingly Senate guidelines modifications. Shelby additionally says that Senate leaders have indicated their badist for the badessment.

“We thought that it would be good that we do it in a bipartisan way. A Democrat and a Republican, two women, rather than a bunch of men. Does that make sense?” he stated.

Most lawmakers on Capitol Hill are saying: It certain does.

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