WATCH: GOP rep says Congress must fix Accountability Act to follow same rules as private sector

A key GOP lawmaker is calling on his colleagues in the House and Senate to change the law that governs how Congress deals with sexual harassment claims.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said that Congress needs to grant the Office of Compliance “the power to investigate, the power to subpoena people."

"If they find something is actually a violation, to go actually present it as a case to an administrative law judge and ultimately to get justice for the victim — and not require the person that makes this allegation to go through counseling and mandatory mediation. If they want to do that great, but don't force them to do it,” Byrne said in an interview with The Hill.


On Nov. 14, Byrne, a longtime labor attorney who specialized in employment discrimination and sexual harassment cases, testified before the House Administration Committee at a hearing titled "Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Congressional Workplace."

The recent spate of sexual harassment revelations involving prominent Hollywood and media figures recently hit lawmakers on Capitol Hill — including allegations that two unidentified sitting members were involved in settlements regarding sexual harassment claims.

While each chamber intends to require training on sexual harassment for its respective members and staffers, it’s unclear whether the legislative arm of the government will change the process by which victims currently file claims of sexual harassment.

“If you want to change the Accountability Act it's going to take the House and the Senate to agree with it,” Byrne said.

The Alabama lawmaker said that under the Congressional Accountability Act, Congress is not allowed to “discriminate on the basis of race, sex, etc. and you can't sexually harass — but it doesn't have any of the investigatory powers or prosecutorial powers that the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] does in the private sector.”

Byrne added that the small- and medium-sized companies he represents in south Alabama comply with the rules regarding sexual harassment, so now it is time for Congress to comply with those same rules.

“I think the American people have every right to expect that we're going to have one set of rules and we’re all gonna comply with them, and those rules mean we're not going to tolerate harassment, period,” Byrne said.

Watch the video above to hear Byrne in his own words.