All the recent claims that congressmen sexually harassed female staff members and other women have produced a flurry of newly introduced legislation with new restrictions.
I did a search using the word “harassment” on Congress.gov and counted at least 19 new bills in the last two months, including one authored by U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10, Lycoming Twp.
The bills ban the use of federal tax dollars to pay settlements of sexual harassment lawsuits by Congress members; forbid keeping settlements private; require anti-harassment training for members and staff; ban distributing sexually intimate photos without consent; and reform congressional procedures for investigating harassment claims.
Democrats introduced nine and Republicans nine, though eight of the nine Republican bills popped up after the private sexual harassment settlement by Michigan Rep. John Conyers surfaced.
On Nov. 28, Marino, who served on the House Judiciary Committee with Conyers before Conyers retired Tuesday, introduced one of several bills prohibiting the use of taxpayer money to pay settlements arising from a congressmen’s harassment of someone. On Monday, he introduced another bill requiring repayment of taxpayer dollars used to pay harassment claims.
“Any form of sexual harassment in the workplace is completely unacceptable and members of Congress should not be held to a different standard,” Marino said in a statement Nov. 28, the day he introduced his bill. “As more information comes out regarding the secretive process for harassment complaints, it is clear that major changes need to be made.
It is unconscionable that congressman and senators have taxpayers foot the bill for their disgusting actions.”