It’s been over a year since CNN first reported on Capitol Hill’s subculture of suit-clad sexual predators, otherwise known as the “creep list,” and now we might finally see some real reforms on how Congress handles sexual harassment claims in its own ranks.
A bipartisan group of group of lawmakers on the House Ethics Committee sent out a letter Monday calling for a deal with the Senate to finally get reform legislation to the president’s desk. Both chambers passed legislation to deal with such things as the notorious “hush fund” used to pay for harassment settlements out of taxpayers’ pockets and the Byzantine, bureaucratic procedures for staffers to report their colleagues and bosses for inappropriate behavior.
However, those hungry for a more accountable legislative branch have had to wait months for lawmakers to make any real movement towards a deal on reconciling the two differing bills so that the reforms can become law.
The Senate bill is less stringent on lawmakers than the version passed by the House. For example, the Senate version would hold lawmakers personally liable for the monetary damages that result from harassment cases, but not those from discrimination cases.
Last year I spoke with then-Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., about what transparency provisions made it into the final versions of the bill and what didn’t — e.g., anything that could retroactively expose those who settled harassment cases with public funds.
“Members and employees alike should be able to work free from sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind,” the letter concludes. “The American public must also have confidence that we in Congress not only view these issues with the seriousness that they demand — but that we are taking action.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told reporters, “We’re working on getting that done before the end of year,” according to Politico.
As with almost every other needed reform from the federal government, this is better late than never.