Paul Ryan orders mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff

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"In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve, who have been subject to review or have not been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier said in her testimony before the House Administration Committee, which held a hearing on sexual harassment in Congress Tuesday morning.

It comes amid growing calls for an overhaul of the way Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment, including a letter signed by more than 1,500 former Hill staffers who want to see reform for what they say are "inadequate" sexual harassment policies in Congress.

Paul called the hearing an "important step" in efforts to combat sexual harassment and added, "As we work with the Administration, Ethics, and Rules committees to implement mandatory training, we will continue our review to make sure the right policies and resources are in place to prevent and report harassment". He opened the door in only a towel, invited the staffer inside, and proceeded to expose himself.

In late October, as once-secret stories of sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by Hollywood producers, journalists and others poured into public view, the California lawmaker shared her own story of assault and encouraged other former and current Hill employees to come forward with their own.

At the same hearing, Rep. Jackie Speier said there are two current lawmakers who have been involved in sexual harassment.

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"I strongly encourage you to complete sexual harassment training and to mandate the training for your staff".

Lawmakers Tuesday focused also on the long-term effects of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Capitol. Payouts to the victims were not financed by the people who engaged in sexual harassment but by taxpayers. The Senate just last week passed a resolution making sexual harassment training mandatory, not just for staffers and interns, but also for Senate lawmakers.

Under the current system, staffers must undergo months of counseling and mediation with the employing office before they can formally file a complaint.

Speier did not name the members. If a member of Congress has been accused, they receive a House lawyer to represent them for free while the accuser does not receive free counsel.

In the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, is proposing a bill that would streamline the reporting process in the Office of Compliance, the little-known office that handles such complaints.

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