Amid partisan fights on spending and immigration that briefly shut down the federal government, Congress is nearing the finish line on a bipartisan bill that would change how sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill.
Legislation that could get a vote on the House floor as early as Tuesday would lift hurdles for victims to pursue their claims, while shifting financial penalties to the harassers.
The updated Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act incorporates changes pushed by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), who has pursued reform of harassment policies for years. The effort has gained momentum as members of both parties have resigned due to harassment scandals.
Speier explained the measure to her constituents at a town hall meeting in Pacifica on Saturday. Cheers swelled into thunderous applause as she outlined the financial penalties for members of Congress who settle harassment claims against them.
"The member will be required to within 90 days reimburse the U.S. Treasury or have their salary garnished, their thrift plan garnished and their Social Security garnished," Speier said.