Dem lawmaker: Congress still has a ‘serious’ sexual harassment, assault problem

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Congress still has a "serious" problem with sexual harassment and assault, in part because members are not required to go through sexual harassment training upon taking office.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Speier called for House leadership to make immediate changes to sexual harassment guidelines on Capitol Hill.

"We still have a serious problem in Congress, in part because we've never addressed it," Speier said Wednesday. "There's no requirement, mandatory requirement for sexual harassment training for members and staff. I have a bill to do that this year."

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Speier characterized Congress's system of reporting sexual assault and harassment as a system that "protects the accused" rather than the victims of crimes.

"More importantly, we have a system that is really there to protect the accused and to diminish the victim," Speier said. "The victims who I've talked to who have had current cases before the Office of Compliance, it's a nightmare what they have gone through."

"So, it's no surprise that three-quarters of those who are sexually harassed don't even report it," she continued. "We have to change the system so that these nondisclosure agreements are not required, that they have the opportunity to be represented by counsel, that their claims are given serious attention."

Speier's remarks come just a day after several senators introduced a resolution to require members, staff, interns, fellows and detailees to complete mandatory sexual harassment training.

"Today, I’m introducing a bipartisan resolution to ensure that the Rules Committee has the authority necessary to ensure that every member of this chamber, every employee on the Senate payroll, and every unpaid Senate intern receives anti-harassment training," Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump puts trade back on 2020 agenda McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe MORE (R-Iowa) said in a prepared statement.

Grassley's resolution calls for the Senate Rules Committee to issue rules for sexual harassment training, including required training within the first 60 days once a member or Senate staffer starts their position.