Female lawmakers push for action on sexual misconduct

Female lawmakers push for action on sexual misconduct

Lawmakers are calling for action amid changing discourse over sexual misconduct, a bipartisan issue that has reached the halls of Capitol Hill and showed no signs of disappearing from the political conversation on Sunday.

Female lawmakers have been particularly vocal on the issue, many of them detailing their own experiences with sexual harassment, and pressing the need for reform.

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Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Steady Kavanaugh proves to be a tough target for Democrats Dems vow rules overhaul to empower members if House flips Overnight Health Care: House votes to repeal medical device tax | Fierce ObamaCare critic joins administration | GOP senators target DC individual mandate MORE (D-D.C.) on Sunday called for members and Congressional staffers to become educated about how to handle sexual harassment incidents, noting that Capitol Hill previously has not mandated this type of training.

“I sent a letter and asked members to join me in sending a letter saying we don't have to wait for Congress to say everybody, every member of Congress and every staff member has to look at this video because ... I am convinced that many women even may not understand what some unwelcome advances are,” Norton told ABC’s “This Week."

“And that they don't have to welcome them, or they can turn them away, or they can say, you know, 'you're not supposed to do this,' and that might stop some men," she said.

Female lawmakers on Sunday ensured the spotlight remained on the problems around sexual harassment and abuse — as well as reporting it — alongside other pressing issues, such as tax reform.

“We can’t defend any of this,” Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellFormer Rep. John Dingell returns to Twitter after heart attack John Dingell suffers heart attack, said to be ‘in good spirits’ The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (D-Mich.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday in an impassioned plea for action.

“This isn’t going to get fixed. Men have wives, sisters, daughters, friends, families. We got to fix this together and change the culture. And by the way, it’s been going on for too long,” she added. 

The spotlight has turned to sexual misconduct in recent weeks after numerous accusations, including of sexual assault, were levied against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul and Democratic mega-donor have reverberated throughout the entertainment industry and beyond, with other women coming forward to detail the sexual misconduct they have faced from men in power.

The allegations have reached men currently in politics, with both Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken#MeToo era shows there's almost never only one accuser, says Hill.TV's Krystal Ball Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat MORE (D-Minn.) and Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore facing sexual misconduct accusations. 

Former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said Sunday that the current environment and conversation will only become a turning point if men join women in speaking out about the pervasive problem of sexual harassment.

“It will only be a watershed moment if men decide to step forward. Women have been stepping forward, as you point out, for a really long time,” she said on "This Week."

Several male lawmakers have spoken out recently about the issue, and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCorey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report GOP super PAC hits Randy Bryce with ad starring his brother Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (R-Wis.) pushed for mandatory anti-sexual harassment training in the House.

Fiorina said men need to make clear that they do not respect other men who disrespect women, calling for the male gender as a whole to “man up.”

Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), who said she experienced sexual harassment during her time serving in Congress, also described the problem as cultural, but said women “gave up the fight.”

“My silence is part of the problem too on the Hill,” she added.

Lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would make anti-sexual harassment training a requirement on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) last week introduced the Member and Employee Training and Oversight on Congress Act, which would not only mandate the training, but also alter the process staffers can use to file complaints.

Speier, who has disclosed her own experience with sexual misconduct from her days working as a staffer on Capitol Hill, also identified a current cultural shift in how the country talks about sexual harassment.

The congresswoman argued President Trump would not win an election in today’s climate due to the accusations that have been made against him.

“But I think all of us are grateful now that there is a new day for women in the workplace where they do not have to put up with sexual advances that are unwanted, that they do not have to live and work in a hostile work environment,” Speier said Sunday on CBS. “And that’s going to be good for all of us in the workplace.”

Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockVirginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — 2020 hopefuls lead the charge against Kavanaugh Trump retweets GOP Senate candidate upset by federal pay freeze MORE (R-Va.) also said on NBC that Capitol Hill must work toward “zero tolerance policies,” noting many of the components being discussed in regard to sexual harassment are garnering bipartisan support.