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Ethics panel calls on House, Senate leaders to act on anti-sexual harassment bill

Members of the House Ethics Committee are calling on leaders in both chambers to act on legislation aimed at preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and holding members accountable for their actions.
 
The bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers argued in a letter to the top two Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate that Congress must pass the Congressional Accountability Act, including provisions that were included in the lower chamber’s version of the bill.
 
“As we indicated at the time, the bill includes important features to ensure that the House and Senate ethics committees have the tools and information they need to investigate alleged violations of workplace rights and other misconduct. It also includes provisions to make Members personally liable for their own conduct,” they wrote.
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The letter was sent to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNow we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin Zaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power MORE (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFive takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-N.Y.).
 
Under the House-passed bill, the Office of Compliance would be renamed the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights. The office would also be required to provide the House Ethics Committee with records of hearings, investigations and information pertaining to settlements following allegations of harassment in an attempt to streamline the communication between the office and committees.
 
Members argued that language in the House-passed legislation requiring lawmakers to reimburse the Department of Treasury for settlements pertaining to retaliation or discrimination within 90 days is necessary to prevent the misuse of official funds.

“If a former Member fails to follow through, the bill provides for garnishment of retirement annuities to ensure the amount is repaid. Recent matters before the Committee illustrate the need for these provisions,” they continued.

“Under the House bill, a Member would be personally liable for a settlement or award related to their own conduct upon the settlement or award being made. The House bill also provides for mandatory referrals to the congressional ethics committees, but does not condition the imposition of personal liability upon the outcome of any such investigations.”

Lawmakers also argued that "because the ethics committees have jurisdiction over current members of Congress, this approach ensures that personal liability is established - even if a Member later resigns or leaves Congress while an ethics investigation is ongoing, but before it is completed."
 
Neither the House nor the Senate version has seen movement since passing their respective chambers earlier this year.
 
The push to move the legislation comes in the wake of multiple instances of lawmakers — including former Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas) — using official funds to settle harassment claims.