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Senators push for funding bill to include money for sexual harassment training

Two female senators are urging Senate leadership to include funding for sexual harassment training in the upcoming short-term spending bill.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter on Thursday to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking that the provision be included in the government funding legislation.

"Given the urgency of this problem, we ask that any continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill provide additional funding to support updated and improved training for all legislative branch employees, including members and all staff working in the Capitol complex and state offices," Collins and Murray wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top two members on the Appropriations Committee.

The Senate passed a resolution last month making sexual harassment training mandatory. Murray and Collins noted that "sufficient funding" needs to be included so the Office of Compliance can implement the new rules.

Congress has to pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government by Dec. 22 in order to prevent a shutdown.

In addition to funding, Collins and Murray are also pushing for the legislation to include "measures to improve the ways that congressional offices respond to both the causes and consequences of these incidents." 

The two senators pitched potential changes, including reforming the complaint process and including "every member of the Congressional community" under the Congressional Accountability Act.

The request comes as Capitol Hill has been rocked in recent weeks by allegations of sexual misconduct involving several members.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who was under scrutiny for allegations of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, said Thursday that he will not run for reelection.

And in the Senate, Al Franken (D-Minn.) is stepping down after several women came forward to accuse him of inappropriate conduct, including forced kissing and groping.

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