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Women US Senators Urge Leadership to Act on Sex Harassment Bill


The Capitol Dome of the Capitol Building at sunrise, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington.

All 22 women U.S. Senators are increasing pressure on the chamber's leadership to approve legislation to overhaul how sexual harassment and discrimination claims are addressed on Capitol Hill.

Female senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to bring legislation that had been approved by the House of Representatives to the Senate floor for a vote.

"Inaction is unacceptable when a survey shows that four out of 10 women congressional staffers believe that sexual harassment is a problem on Capitol Hill and one out of six women in the same survey responded that they have been the survivors of sexual harassment," the senators wrote.

The letter was led by Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Patty Murray and was signed by every female senator.

They are calling for senate action on a House-passed bill that would reform the Congressional Accountability Act, which limits the ability of victims to immediately seek a legal remedy. The senators said the chamber should provide victims the same resources, including free legal representation, that are available to House staff members.

In the nearly two months since the House approved the measure, there has been little progress in advancing it in the Senate.

"No longer can we allow the perpetrators of these crimes to hide behind a 23-year-old law," the letter said. "It's time to rewrite the Congressional Accountability Act and update the process through which survivors seek justice."

The push for legislation began last fall in the middle of the #MeToo movement and after news reports were published detailing how some lawmakers surreptitiously settled sexual harassment complaints, sometimes by paying accusers with taxpayer money.

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