100 days after House passage, Gillibrand calls on Senate to act on sexual harassment reform

100 days after House passage, Gillibrand calls on Senate to act on sexual harassment reform
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Trump: ‘Dems have a death wish’ Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday criticized her Senate colleagues for not acting on sexual harassment reform, noting 100 days had passed since the House passed landmark legislation to overhaul Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment policies.

“100 days ago, the House unanimously passed a bipartisan bill to address sexual harassment in Congress,” Gillibrand said in a string of tweets. “As of today, the Senate has yet to bring this up for a vote. Nothing has moved.”

“Every wasted day leaves those who've experienced harassment trapped in a broken system designed to keep them from coming forward,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, taxpayers are stuck paying the tab for the cost of politicians’ harassment settlements.”

Momentum for sexual harassment reform in Congress grew with the rise of the "Me Too" movement, and as several female lawmakers shared their own stories of being harassed as Hill staffers and in their current positions.

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In February, the House passed legislation intended to streamline the harassment reporting process for Capitol Hill staffers.

The legislation also seeks to improve transparency for settlements involving lawmakers that are funded by taxpayer dollars. Congressional data shows that more than $340,000 in taxpayer dollars have been used to cover sexual harassment settlements since 2008.

The current system, the Congressional Accountability Act, has been criticized by members of both parties as being outdated.

Gillibrand, a top 2020 contender, has long been an advocate for sexual harassment survivors. She was also the first Democrat to call on former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' MORE (D-Minn.) to resign amid a series of groping allegations.

She said Thursday that she has been working to move forward with her Congressional Harassment Reform Act, but lamented that it has not been brought for a vote. In March, all 22 female senators called on Senate leadership to bring legislation before the Senate, but it has not been considered.

“The more time that goes by without addressing this broken system, the more people suffer,” Gillibrand said Thursday. “Passing reform would show that Congress is finally taking this problem seriously—and in the Senate, members of both parties want to get this done. All we need is the chance to vote.”

“I often tell people that on a good day, Congress is still 20 years behind the rest of the country,” she added. “It is in our power, right now, to make sexual harassment the exception to that rule. We’ve waited 100 days. Let’s not wait any longer.”