It is long overdue for the veil to be pulled back on sexual harassment in Congress. I co-sponsored the ME TOO Congress Act (H.R. 4396) with a bipartisan group of colleagues to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination and provide a real path to justice for victims. It was recently revealed that U.S. taxpayers have spent $17 million for 268 Congressional settlements over just two decades. There has been little to no accountability to date for Members of Congress who are harassers, and it is time that changed.
The ME TOO Act will publicly release the names of offending Members of Congress through the Office of Compliance. Members will be held personally and financially responsible for harassing victims, and victims will no longer be required to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of their settlement claims. It is unconscionable that American taxpayers have been paying the bill for sexual harassers in Congress, while predators are shielded from public scrutiny. We must end the policies that have forced these victims to suffer in silence.
Predatory behavior, sexual harassment, and sexual assault have no place in our society. Hollywood, the political world, the military; and the media have been shaken by recent stories of harassment, assault, threats, and coercion. Sadly, these stories are not isolated incidents but are the stark reality that millions of (mostly) women face each day.
Change can only come about through a concerted effort. We must work together to better live out the principles of respect and aloha that make our institutions and our country strong. The ME TOO Congress Act will provide fairness and transparency to victims and reinstate some of the public’s trust in our government. This legislation is by no means the single solution to eradicating sexual harassment, but it is the start of a process that must begin now.
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