Senate

32 male senators back Senate women’s calls to change harassment rules

Greg Nash

Thirty-two male senators have signed on to a letter demanding changes to how Congress handles sexual misconduct, joining a plea issued by the Senate’s female members last month.

The letter, which was led and organized by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), voices support for a letter sent by the Senate’s 22 female members on March 28 calling for updates to the 1995 statute that set up the current method of handling workplace misconduct complaints on Capitol Hill.

“We join their call for the full Senate to immediately consider legislation that would update and strengthen the policies and procedures available for those who have been impacted by sexual harassment and discrimination in Congress,” the male senators’ letter reads.

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The letter was signed by 31 male members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the only Republican to sign on to the letter. 

The letter calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring to the floor legislation that would update current policies for handling sexual misconduct cases, streamline the process for reporting harassment and give staffers additional resources for filing reports.

“We strongly agree that the Senate should quickly take up legislation to combat sexual harassment on Capitol Hill,” Schumer said in response to the letter.

McConnell’s spokesman also indicated support and said members would “continue to work on this issue” on a bipartisan basis.

“The Leader support members being personally, financially liable if they engage in sexual harassment,” McConnell spokesman David Popp said in a statement.

The House has already changed its policies on sexual harassment cases and established an Office of Employee Advocacy to represent harassment victims. 

“If we are to lead by example, the Senate must revise current law to give the victims of sexual harassment and discrimination a more coherent, transparent, and fair process to tell their stories and pursue justice without fear of personal or professional ruin,” the letter from the male senators reads.

Updated at 3:55 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Congress Harassment Jeff Merkley Jeff Merkley Me Too movement Mitch McConnell Senate Sexual harassment Sexual misconduct Ted Cruz Workplace bullying

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