(WASHINGTON, DC) — House lawmakers passed sexual harassment reform legislation today that includes a Congressional accountability measure based on a bill filed by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) which requires sexual harassment cases to be automatically referred to the Ethics Committee, helping lift the shroud of secrecy cloaking settlements.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, was an original co-sponsor of that bill, which will ensure a more accountable culture in Congress, now that is has been included in the updated Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act overwhelmingly passed by the House today.
“For too long, Congress protected perpetrators and left victims vulnerable and exposed,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Members of Congress have been able to evade scrutiny of unacceptable behavior for far too long, concealing information from their colleagues on the Ethics Committee who are charged with holding our institution to the highest standard. This bipartisan legislation will put an end to the days of sweeping congressional harassment under the rug. Every American deserves a safe and hostile-free workplace, whether it’s inside an office, on a factory floor or in the halls of Congress.”
“Time is up for sexual harassment in Congress. We hope this bipartisan legislation will hold abusers accountable while strengthening protections for victims and ensuring transparency. Now we must work together to make sure women and men in every industry have safe and dignified workplaces,” said Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group.
Wasserman Schultz’s original Me Too Congressional Ethics Act sought to ensure Members of Congress and their staff faced potential Ethics Committee sanctions for unwanted and improper sexual behavior that generates an official action, such as a legal settlement or a finding by the Congressional Office of Compliance. Frankel was an original co-sponsor of that bill.