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House Approves New Spending Rules Covering Security and Sexual Harassment

by Countable | 2.28.18

What’s the story?

The Committee on House Administration met Tuesday to approve updates to its handbook for members and their staffs. Included in the update were new rules on physical security and sexual harassment.

Here are the highlights:

  • Bullet proof vests for House members are now considered a reimbursable expense.

  • Unspent monies from previous fiscal years may be used for security enhancements to district offices, but must be documented.

  • Payment for security for member-hosted district events, to accompany members on all their official duties, and to be stationed inside or outside the district office during business hours are all now reimbursable expenses.

  • The cost of security enhancements (bulletproof glass, secure doors, etc.) for district offices that are not covered by unspent money from the prior fiscal year are not directly reimbursable, but can be added to the cost of rent by the district office landlord.

  • Taxpayer funds may not be used to cover settlements or awards in connection with behavior prohibited under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.

As of February 8, 2018 Rep. Blake Farenthold, who promised in December to pay back an $84,000 settlement over harassment allegations, still had not paid that money back. These new rules do not compel him to do so. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office stated to CNN that they still expect the congressman to honor his word and pay the money back.

What do you think?

Do you support the House, and thus taxpayers, covering increased security expenses for congress members and their staffs? Do you support Members of Congress having to cover settlements for any harassment allegations against them? Though not legally obligated by these changes, do you think Rep. Farenthold should follow through on his promise to pay back the settlement paid on his behalf by taxpayers?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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