The Senate cleared a resolution on Thursday requiring that all senators and staffers undergo sexual harassment training.
The Senate unanimously passed the resolution as part of the chamber’s nightly wrap-up amid pressure from senators in both parties to change the chamber’s voluntary training policy.
The resolution was introduced earlier Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
“Making harassment training mandatory in the Senate sends a clear message: harassment of any kind is not and will not be tolerated in Congress. Period,” Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, said in a statement.
Grassley added that Congress has “a particular duty to set high standards of conduct.”
“By passing this resolution, we take a step to ensure that all who work for the Senate are able to do their job without feeling unsafe or uncomfortable,” he added.
The resolution requires training to be completed within 60 days and repeated at least once during every session of Congress, which lasts two years.
It also authorizes the Rules Committee, headed up by Shelby and Klobuchar, to issue any guidance or regulations necessary to carry out the new sexual harassment training policy.
Senators in both parties have been urging the chamber to make the Office of Compliance’s voluntary sexual harassment training program mandatory for lawmakers and staffers.
Grassley previously asked the Rules Committee about the issue but was told that the Senate would likely need to pass a resolution giving them that authority.
In addition to Grassley’s previous letter, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said late last week
that she was working on her own legislation.
Four in 10 of the women who responded to a Roll Call survey
earlier this year said they believed Capitol Hill had a sexual harassment problem, while one in six said they had experienced it personally.
And one current lawmaker and three former lawmakers told The Associated Press
that they had experienced sexual harassment or hostile comments around the Capitol. Staffers also described to Roll Call the worry that reporting an incident would negatively impact their careers.
The push on Capitol Hill comes in the aftermath of a spate of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against high-profile figures in media and politics.
GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore is currently battling calls for him to step aside after The Washington Post reported that Moore had an inappropriate sexual encounter with a minor in 1979.
Leigh Corfman, now 53, told the newspaper that Moore kissed her, touched her under her underwear and placed her hand over his underwear when she was 14 years old and he was 32.
The story also quotes three other women who say Moore approached them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers, but that no sexual contact occurred — outside of kissing in some of those cases.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Angus King (I-Maine), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), are co-sponsoring the resolution.