More than 50 people describe sexual harassment on Capitol Hill

Capitol

Capitol

"There is no place for sexual harassment in our society, period, and especially in the Congress, " said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., chairman of the House Administration Committee.

In November, four current or former female lawmakers alleged that they have been sexually harassed by male colleagues - including on the House floor.

There is now no requirement for sexual harassment training in the House of Representatives, but individual offices may voluntarily have their staffs attend trainings offered by the Office of Compliance.

"There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve who have been subject to review or not been subject to review that have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier told the Committee on House Administration.

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. "Amongst ourselves, we know", a former Senate staffer said of the lawmakers with the worst reputations.

Earlier in the hearing Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said in a statement she knew of a man now serving in the House who had asked a young female staffer to bring documents to his home, greeted her in a towel and exposed himself to her.

"She left, she found another job", Comstock said.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Comstock's remarks suggest that Speier's push for broad reform of Congress' harassment policy, spearheaded in the Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), might find bipartisan support. "We can and should lead by example", Ryan said in a letter to members and staff.

Lawmakers Tuesday focused also on the long term effects of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Capitol.

"Women and men have trusted me with their stories", Speier said.

Speier has introduced legislation to require annual sexual harassment awareness training for lawmakers and staff, who would have to file a certificate of completion with the House Ethics Committee.

She told CNN's "New Day" earlier Tuesday that current policy dictates that individuals coming forward with harassment complaints have to go through a three-month process.

Earlier this month, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), now a member of the House Democratic leadership, told The Associated Press that a male lawmaker had repeatedly ogled her and at one point inappropriately touched her on the House floor. "By the way. the general counsel of the House is representing the harasser".