Significant progress is being made on Capitol Hill with respect to sexual harassment. Now taxpayers don’t have to pay for the indiscretions of their elected officials!
Members of Congress reached an agreement on overhauling how sexual harassment accusations against Congressional members are handled. The bipartisan agreement seeks to increase transparency and hold members more accountable for their actions.
Under the previous system, settlements in sexual harassment cases against members of Congress were paid out of taxpayer-funded accounts. According to PBS, “Nearly $300,000 in taxpayer funds has been spent to settle 13 claims against members of Congress or their offices since 2003 that include sexual harassment or sex discrimination.” No taxpayer should be forced to pay for a Congressman’s offenses.With the new reforms, Congressmen will have to pay for settlements out-of-pocket.
The new rules also provide legal assistance for House and Senate staffers who file complaints. This is crucially important. The #MeToo movement showed many cases of sexual harassment go unreported. One unreported case is one too many. These new rules should empower staffers to speak out against sexual harassment.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, nine members of Congress were forced out of office due to sexual harassment claims. These reforms are a great step forward in ensuring staffers are empowered to report these abuses of power. Also, it removes Congress’ special privilege of forcing taxpayers to pay for their misdeeds.