House passes funding for expanded sexual harassment training
May 1st, 2014
12:32 PM ET
5 months ago

House passes funding for expanded sexual harassment training

Washington (CNN) – The House passed legislation Thursday in a 402-14 vote that will provide funds for expanded sexual harassment training for all members and their staff.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California introduced the measure as an amendment to the legislative branch spending bill. The legislation allocates $500,000 from that bill to pay for the effort, and Speier ultimately wants the training to become mandatory.

"The American people expect us to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the responsibilities and duties that we hold as members of Congress–not like we are freshman at a frat house," Speier said Thursday morning on the House floor.

The move comes after Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Louisiana, announced this week he will not seek re-election this fall after the married lawmaker was caught on camera kissing a staff member in his office.

Speier's office, however, said the measure was not prompted by the incident involving McAllister.

While the congressman's name was never mentioned in the debate, Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, said embarrassing "recent events" have brought renewed attention to the issue of sexual harassment.

"We cannot allow 'Mad Men' style antics to occur in our offices," Lowey said, referring to the popular AMC television series.

For her part, Speier alluded to past incidents in Congress and noted other public scandals involving sexual harassment, such as teenage pages being sexted on the House floor and staff members being "groped" and "inappropriately touched."

She also brought up former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who stepped down from his mayoral office last year after facing several allegations of sexual harassment. The Democrat was a member of the House for nearly two decades prior to becoming mayor in 2012.

Speier has also been actively involved in legislation aimed to stop military sexual misconduct.

"It's just as important that we bring the same scrutiny to our own House," she said.

Reports of military sex assault up sharply, officials say

Sexual harassment training is already mandatory in the Executive Branch, she added, but training for Congress is only voluntary. The Congressional Office of Compliance provides the training, though it's not typically requested until after an incident is reported, she said.

Speier added she and her staff have taken the 90 minute training, and "as much as I know about sexual harassment, I learned additional things during that training."

The $500,000 would be used to implement a web-based training program, as well as educational outreach to inform staff members of their rights, she said.

The proposal was met with no opposition on the House floor, and the amendment was added to the bill.

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan, said "this is certainly not a partisan issue."

"We have seen incidents over the years of Republicans and Democrats – both sides of the aisle here," she continued.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, thanked Speier for introducing the amendment and said it was something Republicans are "more than happy to accept."


Filed under: Congress • House
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "For the record I would've sided with the with the 14. How on earth these adults need this type of training is beyond me.

    "How" or "why" does not matter whatsoever. What matters is that the record is replete with evidence that they DO need it.

    What's more, having them go through a training program helps us take away any attempts to claim ignorance of what constitutes appropriate behavior...as they are so fond of claiming when they get caught.

    May 1, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Dems in PA

    A better answer would be to cut staff, cut the number of members in Congress; cut members of Congress pay; cut the members of Congress retirement; not; training for all members and their staff.

    May 1, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith

    @DM4O-Both the GOP and Dems have had issues with this subject. Acting like only the GOP does is pure spin
    -------------------------------------------------
    I'm not spinning here smith, nor was I stating that ONLY the GOP has issues with this subject.
    I was addressing the fact that they are trying to act as if getting BI-PARTISAN agreement, at long last, on this particular subject is supposed to make us forget that they have not reached BI-PARTISAN agreement on pretty much anything else prior.
    The GOP has been on a leave of absence from bipartisanship since 2009.

    May 1, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Seems to be a lot of money to get those republicans to stop using their elected status to get women to like them.

    May 1, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Tommy G – Ever wonder how Boehner could afford a $835,000 second home on Marco Island when he makes $175,000 a year? He learned early to pass the plate to the DC lobbyists.

    May 1, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2