The House today approved a resolution introduced by Rep Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) aimed at combating sexual harassment in Congress.
“There is no room for sexual harassment in the work place and we must have zero tolerance for harassment of any kind, especially in Congress,” Comstock said. “This legislation we passed here today is a strong first step in fundamentally reforming how we address the insidious problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and committing to a healthy, safe working environment free from sexual harassment.”
“As a Mom, former intern, former Congressional staffer and counsel and Justice Department employee, and now a Member of Congress on the Committee that will reform this process, this is truly a watershed moment for those who serve in this body. This resolution mandates educating our workforce in Congress, from Members to the interns, on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and having zero tolerance for sexual predators.
Comstock crossed party lines to work with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on the measure, which would require members and staff to complete mandatory anti-harassment training. Comstock faces a tough re-election race in 2018 and has been criticized by Democrats who say she has not sufficiently distanced herself from President Trump.
Her defenders note, however, that she was one of the first Republican lawmakers to call on Trump to drop out of the Presidential race when the Access Hollywood tapes in which he makes obscene comments about women were released.
“Men joining in …”
“This legislation promotes the essential principles of accountability and personal responsibility. It is bipartisan legislation, because bad behavior transcends party labels and predators come from both parties. It is also important that men are joining women in this effort and we have a broad consensus for additional reforms,” Comstock said.
“This is just a first step. Going forward, I will work to reform the reporting process for victims and provide them with an advocate such as a victim’s counsel or Ombudsmen. There must be no taxpayer-funded settlements for accused Members of Congress and we need transparency and accountability in the process both going forward and in disclosing past settlements. I support allowing victims who did make settlements with the opportunity to come forward without fear of consequences from non-disclosure agreements. These and other reforms can and should be adopted as we move forward in providing fundamental reforms to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all.”
“This is a cultural revolution,” Speier said in a phone interview with the Washington Post.
The issue comes as Comstock faces a tough reelection in 2018 and is working to cement a brand distinct from President Trump, who polls show is unpopular with the suburban female voters who are a significant voting bloc in her Northern Virginia district.