Each member and employee would receive training within the first 90 days of each session of Congress, or within 90 days of becoming a member or an employee. Each member office would be required to display a poster created by the Office of Compliance that outlines employees’ legal rights and protections and how they can report allegations of workplace violations.
The House is expected to vote on the resolution next week, according to the House Administration Committee, which oversees daily operations in the House. Mandating anti-harassment training already has the support of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
If adopted, these changes would mark a victory for advocates and people affected by inappropriate workplace behavior on Capitol Hill.
Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training is a requirement for federal agencies and the majority of the private sector. Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bipartisan resolution requiring periodic anti-harassment training for senators, aides and interns.
Lawmakers in recent weeks have come under pressure to improve the workplace culture on the Hill amid reports of lewd comments, unwanted sexual advances and other examples of sexual misconduct that have plagued Congress for decades. Two lawmakers, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), are facing multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior. The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations of misconduct by Conyers.
At a public hearing earlier this month, female lawmakers described sexual harassment as a pervasive problem and suggested current members of Congress have engaged in misconduct. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced changes to expand workplace protections in Congress, beyond mandatory employment training.
The mandatory-training resolution introduced Friday is sponsored by House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the committee’s top Democrat, Robert Brady (D-Penn.), and two female lawmakers — Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) — who have spoken out about sexual misconduct in Congress.
Lawmakers pushing for mandatory training have called the requirement a necessary “first step” toward preventing sexual harassment in Congress and improving the workplace culture on Capitol Hill.
“Instituting mandatory training is a first step in ensuring we are creating a safe and productive environment for everyone in the House,” Harper said in a statement.
Harper said the committee will continue to review other necessary changes or resources to address harassment and discrimination in Congress.