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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)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(37)
  • Susan
    03/01/2018
    ···

    So let me get this straight...Congress wants to support spending our money to protect them...but does not want to talk about laws to protect ourselves or our children against guns? Bullet proof bests and glass for them but nothing for their constituents? This is the epitome of telling us we don’t matter but they do! How dare they! I am truly disgusted!

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  • OlderNWiser
    03/01/2018
    ···

    Since Mark DeSaulnier, Kamala Harris, and Dianne Feinstein support reasonable gun controls, yes, they deserve to have security provided. Since our children and adults are being murdered in their schools, churches, entertainment venues and on our streets, anyone who fights reasonable gun controls on war weapons used to murder civilians, should pay for their own security.

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  • Leon
    02/28/2018
    ···

    I’m all for members being responsible for suits. I do not support ANY security expenses until ALL schools have similar access to those security funds. If they really care about kids they’ll take any leftover funds and use them in their district’s schools before their offices.

    Like (29)
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  • Bob
    03/01/2018
    ···

    No to bulletproof vests and paid security. Heck no to NDAs in sexual harassment period. All cases should be handled by law enforcement and the courts. No payouts using taxpayer money.

    Like (14)
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  • John
    03/01/2018
    ···

    Let’s start with security for ALL citizens by banning assault weapons and large capacity clips/magazines. Let’s fund real, universal, no exceptions background checks. Let’s limit the types and amounts of ammunition. Then maybe we can talk about security for Congresspersons.

    Like (8)
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  • Chickie
    03/01/2018
    ···

    That representative Farenthold owes the taxpayers $84K and has yet to fulfill his promise is wrong. That representative Farenthold’s wages are not attached until the debt is fulfilled is critical. That representative Farenthold is not being thoroughly investigated is deplorable! I believe the budget for security measures for each house member should be allotted for a reasonable amount and audited regularly. If an office goes over the budgeted amount, the overage monies will be withheld until reimbursement is fulfilled. It is plainly obvious, many representatives, who say they will reimburse the taxpayers, pay a small ‘deposit or simply ignore the debt altogether. If a taxpayer did this with the IRS did this their wages would be garnished. Perhaps a continuous neon feed outside their office door and on their desk on the floor should show how much each representative owes the taxpayer and also show how much lobbyists and special interest groups paid into this representatives (re)election campaign would prompt these representatives to behave honestly?

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  • Timnyc
    03/01/2018
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    If members feel the need for security the expenses should only be covered after a official assessment by the FBI or other official government agency that deemed it necessary in writing that such measures are a priority to immediate safety. Otherwise no taxpayers monies should be paid.

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  • Topi
    03/01/2018
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    Republicans are bailing like rats from a sinking ship now that they got their tax cut. Now they have better insurance than their constituents and want more protection than they are willing to provide Americans. Wtf!!!!!!

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  • Gail
    03/01/2018
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    Sounds like Congress is running scared, that their sins are catching up to them. School children be damned but they WILL protect themselves at any cost! And YES, Farenhold should pay back every penny owed for the settlement of his sexual harassment suit by tax payers.. If he does not do it in a timely manner( meaning NOW),his wages as a Congressman should be garnished like in the REAL world!

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  • Countryfirst
    03/01/2018
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    So we're supposed to pay to protect the lying money grubbing cowards in government, but NONE OF THEM WSNT TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN WITH COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROLS..GET RID OF THESE REPUKICANS NOW!!

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  • S
    03/01/2018
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    Isn’t it interesting that they want nothing to do with gun control, but all of a sudden not two weeks after the last mass murders, they are worried about their own security. Are they hypocrites or scaredy cats? They can pay for their own security and not from tax payer money. They can use my money when they get gun control laws and prove that they aren’t on the NRA and gun mfg payrolls. Until then they’re on their own. They aren’t entitled to anything they deny us. Their lives are worth more than ours? Who made that rule? They don’t want the public to be protected, but they want to protect themselves using our money. Where is our protection? Who is going to pay for protecting us?

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  • Alies
    03/01/2018
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    They get security paid fo, but no help protecting our kids.

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  • Donna
    03/01/2018
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    After 9/11 then-President Bush gave a speech imploring Americans not to give in to the terrorists and 'get back to our normal lives'. They immediately spent a ton of taxpayer money turning our nation's capital into a fortress. The buildings we pay to maintain are barely accessible to the public. There are cement barriers lining streets in DC, meant to keep the riffraff out and our 'elected representatives' in and safe from the rest of us. This feels like that moment. Americans are being murdered in large numbers due to easy access to weapons of war meant only for mass destruction of human life and the first instinct of our government is to protect themselves, again at our expense. They will not protect our students or concert-goers or movie attendees or those attending church by removing these weapons from our streets - which will cost the taxpayers NOTHING. They will, however, spend our money to expand their fortresses from DC to their local offices so 'they are protected' while the rest of us worry whether today will be the day we (or someone we love) take a bullet for merely appearing in a public place. I do not believe that is the definition of public service. It does show how disconnected these self-serving people are from reality. They are not in it for the rest of us, they only wish to protect themselves, their position and their power. I find that disgusting.

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  • PaxAmericana
    02/28/2018
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    Can we see something more pressing please?

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  • Peter
    03/01/2018
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    Absolutely not. Use the police or the military and 911 the same way the rest of us do. My tax dollars would be much better spent protecting our schools and children.

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  • Barbara
    03/01/2018
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    Just like our current congress to award themselved protections they deem necessary for themselves only, due to their grossly negligent inaction on gun safety regulations. Under the umbrella of no longer stealing our tax monies for other malignant purposes.

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  • Joane
    03/01/2018
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    If you are providing protection for Congress then do your job and provide protection for the American populace! Shame on Congress for thinking only of themselves!

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  • Melissa
    03/01/2018
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    Bullet proof vests won’t protect them from head shots.

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  • Hillary
    03/01/2018
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    Take all the bribe money you have collected in the form of “campaign contributions” and spend that for protections for students and teachers. Once EVERY school has metal detectors, and professional security then MAYBE we’ll look at bulletproof vests for public servants. You guys have a lot of nerve to ask this for yourselves in the same breath as saying our children and teachers aren’t worth saving.

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  • SirRobert
    03/01/2018
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    The first thing we need to do with members of congress is publish a list of the members that have been involved in a sex abuse settlement that has been funded with our tax dollars! Everyone that has been involved in such a settlement needs to repay the millions of dollars and resign! SPECIAL ELECTIONS ALL AROUND!

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