The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to overhaul the way Congress deals with sexual harassment in its ranks, a response to the #MeToo movement that swept the nation and forced several lawmakers to resign under a cloud of misconduct allegations.
The bill is designed to hold lawmakers — including those who have left office — personally liable if they’re found to have sexually harassed a staffer or another congressional employee. That change comes after revelations last year that taxpayer money was paid out to settle for more than $342,000 in harassment and discrimination complaints involving members of the House between 2008 and 2012 — a disclosure that sparked public outrage.
The bipartisan bill passed by voice vote.
“I think it puts the responsibility where the American people think it should be,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who announced an agreement on the legislation Tuesday with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
The legislation also does away with archaic congressional rules that force victims of sexual harassment to undergo counseling, mandatory arbitration, and wait for a 30-day “cooling off” period before taking a complaint to court.
The legislation updates the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act. That law applied workplace rules to Congress for the first time.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Nicole Gaudiano and Deirdre Shesgreen