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Capitol Voices

The Tipping Point

The time is now to make a change. 

Regardless of their career, women have had it with being diminished, condescended to, passed over, and belittled. They have had it with inappropriate touching, leering words, innuendos, and emotional or verbal abuse. Regardless if it’s the entertainment world, a school, a doctor’s office, a bank, or Capitol Hill, women have a right to expect behavioral decency in the workplace. Throughout my career, whether in the private or public sector, I have sought to encourage women in the workplace. An acceptance of seediness and vulgarity has seeped into our culture, and now it is up to us to take a stand against it. Enough is enough. 

I have spoken to so many women around my district who are at the end of their careers. They are now thrilled that their daughters and granddaughters will have someone to listen to their complaint when they report men behaving badly. It is time.  Shame on us if we let this opportunity pass and not change the workplace culture. 

To be elected a representative and to fight each and every day on Capitol Hill for the people I serve is truly something I will forever be grateful for. Elected officials owe it to their constituents to work as hard as they can each and every day. We are here to serve and listen to their concerns.

I felt disgust and disappointment when I heard there was a secret hush fund for members of Congress to settle sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. It highlights why D.C. truly is “the swamp”.  

The Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act is a step in the right direction. I, like many members of Congress, had no idea this hush fund even existed. It is part of the Office of Compliance, and $17 million of taxpayer money has been used to settle claims against members of Congress. While we don’t know how much was used for sexual harassment and sexual assault settlements, it is something that we are going to find out, and we are going to require that those Members who did use this fund pay back this money to the American people- with interest. It will also prevent settlements of this kind in the future, bringing accountability and transparency to the process. 

One of the most important parts of this act is that it will no longer require women who step forward with a sexual harassment or sexual assault claim to sign a non-disclosure agreement. They will not be silenced. It will also expose members of Congress who used this fund as a personal bailout. It will not, however, expose the victims’ names. If they want to step forward, that is their choice. 

It is time for us to take active steps to ensure there is a workplace culture that consists of respect and equal treatment. This starts within the halls of Congress. We need to set a standard that tells the rest of the world that mistreatment of women will not be tolerated. Women should feel free to step forward and make their voices heard, knowing there will be transparency throughout the process, but also knowing they will not be hurt by the process. The American people, equally, should know that their hard-earned money is not being used for a secret hush fund, to bail out an elected member when they behave in a wrong way. 

We have reached a tipping point. As a conservative woman who has worked hard my whole life to fight these unacceptable standards, I am proud that there can finally be a change, so let’s pass this bi-partisan legislation. We must create a system of accountability and transparency so every American can thrive.  Sexual harassment isn’t something we should just accept as a consequence of putting men and women together in a work environment. 

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