$15 Million in Taxpayer Money Has Been Paid Out to Settle Congressional Sexual Harassment Suits
“We do know there is about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 10 to 15 years,” Speier revealed, on Tuesday.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) informed NBC’s Chuck Todd on Tuesday that $15 million in taxpayer money had been paid out over the years to settle sexual harassment suits filed against members of Congress.
Earlier in the day, Speier testified in front of the House Administration Committee that two members of Congress, a Republican and a Democrat, have engaged in sexual harassment in the past.
Todd asked Speier about her allegations of sexual harassment and what she believes her responsibility is in going public with that information.
“Well, it is my responsibility to address the seriousness of this issue. These survivors are subject to a non-disclosure agreement. I’m not going to violate their non-disclosure agreement,” Speier responded.
Lawmakers describe pervasive sexual harassment on Capitol Hill
Efforts to combat sexual harassment on Capitol Hill gained momentum on Tuesday as female lawmakers shared stories of male colleagues engaging in predatory behavior.
Lawmakers in both parties had already expressed support for mandatory sexual harassment awareness training, which is currently voluntary for legislative branch staffers. But they went further in a House Administration Committee hearing on Capitol Hill’s harassment policies and said even more can be done in a male-dominated workplace where sexual harassment can be pervasive.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), in testimony before the panel, said at least two current members of Congress have engaged in sexual harassment.
“In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve, who have been subject to review or not have been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment,” said Speier, who declined to name the male lawmakers.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) offered another example. She shared a story of a male lawmaker — still in Congress — who asked a young female staffer to bring materials to his residence. He opened the door dressed in only a towel, invited her inside and proceeded to expose himself.
Ryan: House to mandate anti-sexual harassment training
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Tuesday the House will introduce mandatory anti-sexual harassment training after multiple female lawmakers went public with accusations against unnamed current colleagues.
The move marked a dramatic change for a body that has previously resisted imposing mandatory training for members and staff.
But the push in recent weeks to combat sexual harassment in the workplace reached a tipping point on Tuesday after female lawmakers’ stories piled up.
“I think the culture in this country has been awakened to the fact that we have a serious epidemic in the workplace,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who’s led the push to reform sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill.
Ryan made the announcement hours after a House Administration Committee hearing about the legislative branch’s existing harassment policies and resources available for staff to report complaints.