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house Bill H.R. 4396

ME TOO Congress Act: Overhauling the Congressional Sexual Harassment Complaint Process

Argument in favor

It’s clear that Congress needs to do more to address the problem of sexual harassment. This bipartisan bill would be a positive step toward preventing harassment and provide better support for victims. Taxpayer funds shouldn’t go toward lawmakers’ settlement payments.

Alyssa's Opinion
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12/08/2017
This is so very overdue and needs to expand to all branches of government. Sexual harassment should face absolutely zero tolerance. No matter how rich and powerful the predator is there need to be serious consequences.
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Becka's Opinion
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12/08/2017
This should extend to all governmental branches! Including the president!
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August's Opinion
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12/08/2017
Constituents should know about their representative’s misconduct.
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Argument opposed

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem, but the procedures that Congress currently has in place do a sufficient job of protecting victims’ rights and ensuring transparency.in the process. Taxpayer funds should go toward lawmakers’ settlement payments.

Germaine's Opinion
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12/08/2017
Congress needs to address more than just harassment and no, taxpayer dollars should in no way to towards the settlements that cover up crimes perpetrated by anyone, let alone a member of congress.
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Bc's Opinion
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12/08/2017
Waste of taxpayers money. Are you telling me Congress doesn’t know that they are NOT above the law? Arrest the guilty. DO NOT SPEND MONEY TEACHING WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS!
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Mythoughts's Opinion
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12/08/2017
MY OPINION AGAINST There should be no statute of limitation and non-disclosure should be prohibited. Non-disclosure as optional will both kill transparency and will still be forced upon victims. It should be the victim's choice to tell their story at any time in their life they feel comfortable
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedNovember 15th, 2017

What is House Bill H.R. 4396?

This bill — known as the ME TOO Congress Act — would seek to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in Congress by overhauling the complaint system, improving training, and making the process more transparent. It would end required mediation and mandatory nondisclosure agreements, require annual sexual harassment training by members and employees, and require members to settle harassment claims against them with their own money.

Counseling and mediation would no longer be required to file a complaint, and instead would be optional. If counseling and mediation is waived, the deadline for filing a complaint would be 180 days after the alleged violation, and the complaint could be made anonymously. Nondisclosure agreements would no longer be imposed as a condition of initiating a complaint, but would still be allowed for the contents of mediation or as part of a negotiated settlement. Complainants could also waive confidentiality in counseling.

Victims would have an optional Victims’ Counsel program available to them, which could provide legal advice and representation to complainants in matters related to the alleged violation. Investigative and subpoena authority would be turned over to the Office of Compliance (OOC).

An employing office would be required to allow a complainant to work remotely during proceedings if they request to do so. If their work cannot be done remotely, the office would be allowed to offer them a paid leave of absence. Employees on paid leave of absence wouldn’t count against the total number of allowed employees in a House office. Organizations with previously agreed upon collective bargaining agreements would be exempt.

Hearings would have to be completed within 180 days of a complaint being filed, and counsel representing the employing office would have the authority to negotiate the final settlement amount without the approval of any committee of Congress.

Annual sexual harassment training would be required for members and staff, which would have to be certified upon completion. It would include specific instructions on how members and senior staff should respond to incidents of sexual harassment.

The bill’s full title is the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act.

Impact

Members of Congress and the employees of their office; the OOC; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4396

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced this bill to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in Congress:

“In 1995, Congress created the Office of Congressional Compliance to protect itself from being exposed, and it has been remarkably successful. Twenty years later, 260 settlements and more than $15 million have permanently silenced victims of all types of workplace discrimination. Zero tolerance is meaningless unless it is backed up with enforcement and accountability. Today, I am proud that my colleagues in the House and the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, are joining me to end the era of impunity for disgraceful behavior and to protect the survivors.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) added:

“While many, if not most, Congressional offices, mine included, have policies in place regarding sexual harassment, this legislation will require annual sexual harassment training, and bring greater transparency and accountability to procedures for filing and investigating a complaint. It is appropriate for the federal government to lead on this issue. This bill is an important step forward in supporting a professional work environment, and I hope to see it signed into law.”

This legislation has the support of 109 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, including 93 Democrats and 16 Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: sharrocks / iStock)

AKA

ME TOO Congress Act

Official Title

To amend the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to reform the procedures provided under such Act for the investigation and resolution of allegations that employing offices of the legislative branch have violated the rights and protections provided to their employees under such Act, including protections against sexual harassment, to require the updating of programs of sexual harassment prevention and response training in employment, to institute biennial employment discrimination climate surveys, and for other purposes.

    This is so very overdue and needs to expand to all branches of government. Sexual harassment should face absolutely zero tolerance. No matter how rich and powerful the predator is there need to be serious consequences.
    Like (157)
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    Congress needs to address more than just harassment and no, taxpayer dollars should in no way to towards the settlements that cover up crimes perpetrated by anyone, let alone a member of congress.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    This should extend to all governmental branches! Including the president!
    Like (101)
    Follow
    Share
    Constituents should know about their representative’s misconduct.
    Like (62)
    Follow
    Share
    This is a step, but we need to call senators and house representatives to insist that predators on BOTH sides of the isle step down. Harassment and assault shouldn’t be a bipartisan issue. Yet Franken is the only one to step down while 16 accusers and a videotape suggest our president is a far more dangerous predator. And Roy Moore even targets children yet the GOP is standing behind him. There really is no grey area here. Women and girls deserve better!!!
    Like (51)
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    We need to do better for the sake of the future. Also, leaders need to be held accountable so that citizens can feel as though our system actually works
    Like (20)
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    Yes because everyone should feel safe in their workplaces!
    Like (16)
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    Waste of taxpayers money. Are you telling me Congress doesn’t know that they are NOT above the law? Arrest the guilty. DO NOT SPEND MONEY TEACHING WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS!
    Like (13)
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    MY OPINION AGAINST There should be no statute of limitation and non-disclosure should be prohibited. Non-disclosure as optional will both kill transparency and will still be forced upon victims. It should be the victim's choice to tell their story at any time in their life they feel comfortable
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    If you touch people without their consent, you should pay for it
    Like (10)
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    If you break it you bought it. That’s common sense. It angers me that the taxpayers have been paying for payoffs when allegations of abuse or harassment are levied. I think folks in congress will take this much more seriously if there are actual consequences.
    Like (9)
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    About time. What are you Congress? Dinosaurs? Not only that it appears that because you are apparently abusers of power, there are many more that need to step down. Including President Donald Trump who has 19 women who he sexually assaulted. And SCOTUS has Clarence Thomas! Congress abused Anita Hill when she took a risk and came forward only to be slandered and further emotionally abused! He should step down if he has any integrity or takes any responsibility for this filthy behavior! All governments local state and Federal branches must force resignations and settlements at the abusers expense.
    Like (9)
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    There’s always gonna be that one idiot in the comments who says “oh we should be focusing on more important things so I’m voting no”. If there is that person I will find and post your address on this.
    Like (7)
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    Get rid of the fund. We shouldn't be paying for actual harassment, or whenever lies are told. Bring the behavior into the light - accusers must file charges with the police.
    Like (6)
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    I disagree about non disclosure. They might have a process that three proven strikes and you are out. However non disclosure will make it easy for this unpleasant situation to continue.
    Like (5)
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    Yes, yes, yes! The current process must not stand! No gov’t funds for settlements, no waiting time where the accuser has to continue to work with the accused, no req. mediation. FULL TRANSPARENCY!
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    The taxpayers should NOT be paying for these sexual predators actions.
    Like (4)
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    Tell me how anyone thinks our tax dollars should go towards settlement funds for sexual harrasment???? It should come directly from the lawmaker doing it? This makes absolutely no sense and is disgusting... Do we have settlements for individual criminals? No... So why pay for criminal legislators
    Like (4)
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    Yes yes yes yes yes yes and about damn time!!
    Like (4)
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    Yay, about damned time!
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