The Senate took a crucial step Tuesday toward requiring members and staff to undergo training to prevent sexual harassment, a change that would bring the upper chamber's employment rules more in line with the rest of the federal government.
A bipartisan group of senators led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution mandating periodic anti-harassment training for senators, officers, aides and interns. The eight-page bill also orders the Senate to conduct a regular anonymous survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual harassment in its offices.
Grassley introduced the bill with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) after reports in The Washington Post and other news outlets documented the persistence of sexual harassment, particularly of young female staff members, in the halls of Congress. Leaders on Capitol Hill have been forced to confront the issue after a rash of allegations of abuse and misbehavior toppled movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
"We should do everything possible to make sure our colleagues and staffs don't have to endure harassment if we can prevent it," Grassley said in a statement. "Trainings like this are important for cultivating the right kind of working environment and setting the baseline standards that any place of work should have."
The Senate Training on Prevention (STOP) Sexual Harassment Resolution seeks to ensure compliance under the new system by requiring offices to supply lists of their employees to the Rules Committee designating whether they have completed anti-harassment training. Mandatory training must include discussion of the prohibition on retaliation against people who report harassment, the bill states.
The measure must pass the Rules Committee to receive a vote by the full Senate.
Asked when the panel might consider the resolution, Blair Bailey Taylor, spokeswoman for Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), wrote in an email: "The Committee is actively considering the issue with the goal of reaching a bipartisan agreement in the very near future."
Across the Capitol, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) urged representatives Friday to undergo sexual harassment training and mandate it for staffers.
Ryan has also ordered the Committee on House Administration to review policies and training materials aimed at stopping sexual harassment. The panel will hold a hearing on the issue on Nov. 14.
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