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Paul Ryan orders mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff

15 November 2017

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., a member of the committee who has served as a Hill staffer, said she was recently alerted to a situation involving another current member of Congress who exposed himself to a female staffer delivering materials to his home.

Speier, a Democrat who has gone public with her own allegations of sexual assault while she served as a Hill aide decades ago, testified before the panel Tuesday that two now sitting members of Congress - one Democrat, one Republican - have "engaged in sexual harassment" but have not yet been reviewed.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told a House panel on Tuesday that at least two current members of Congress have engaged in sexual harassment.

During the hearing to review the House's sexual harassment policies, Comstock said it was "important that we name names".

The young staffer was "greeted with a member in a towel", Comstock told fellow lawmakers, who "invited her in" before committing the offense.

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After the incident, the woman quit her job.

She did not name the lawmakers mentioned in her testimony, citing the non-disclosure agreements she wants to eliminate. "As we work with the Administration, Ethics, and Rules committees to implement mandatory training, we will continue our review to make sure the right policies and resources are in place to prevent and report harassment".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have now called on him to drop out of the race, while the editorial board of the Alabama Media Group branded him "grossly unfit for office".

Speier shared her own experience of sexual harassment earlier this month in a video in which she described a chief of staff forcibly kissing her when she was a congressional staffer.

Until Ryan's announcement Tuesday, there was no requirement for sexual harassment training in the House of Representatives.

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The Senate last week approved a resolution instituting mandatory harassment training for members and aides.

Lawmakers Tuesday focused also on the long-term effects of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Capitol. But he expressed concern that the increasing focus on gender hostility in the workplace could create unintended consequences, including "that some offices may just take a short cut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues".

"Obviously, that's not the right approach", he said. Payouts to the victims were not financed by the people who engaged in sexual harassment but by taxpayers.

Meanwhile, several Democrats are sponsoring legislation that would change the way sexual harassment complaints are handled. He said that would be more effective than the "current patchwork" of policies. All they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment. After 30 days of mandatory mediation, during which the office or member is represented by House of Representatives counsel, they then have to go through a 30 day "cooling off period".

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Paul Ryan orders mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff