The Committee on House Administration is holding a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday to address what many staffers say is an environment where sexual harassment is swept under the rug.
According to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congress has not lived up to the standard the Americans who elected them expect. It is "the worst."
“The Congress of the United States should be the one work environment where people are treated with respect, where there isn’t a hostile work environment,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, who will testify on Tuesday about her efforts to deal with harassment in the Capitol. “And frankly, it’s just the opposite. It’s probably among the worst.”
The New York Times editors say they found plenty of proof to corroborate her story. They found several accusers who describe their uncomfortable encounters on the hill, and how they were afraid to report their crimes.
In more than 50 interviews, lawyers, lobbyists and former aides told The New York Times that sexual harassment has long been an occupational hazard for those operating in Washington politics, and victims on Capitol Hill are forced to go through far more burdensome avenues to seek redress than their counterparts in the private sector.
The piece goes on to detail the testimony of a few accusers. One female lobbyist describes how a House member tried to put his lips on her in the produce aisle at a Capitol Hill grocery store. A staffer for Rep. Gary Miller, (R-CA) says he made her "twirl" in his office after complimenting her looks. M. Reese Everson, a fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, says one member of Congress flirted with her.
As in Hollywood, many of the victims did not come forward with their stories for fear of how it would affect their careers.
In the wake of these allegations, legislation has been introduced to implement mandatory sexual harassment training and to strengthen the Office of Compliance.
While Capitol Hill deals with reports about it being a "hostile workplace," Hollywood is still reeling from the Harvey Weinstein headlines. That initial bombshell has emboldened other victims to come forward and share horror stories about Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K.
In Alabama, Republican candidate for Senate Roy Moore is pushing back at reports that he sexually abused a minor when he was in his 30s. Several Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have asked him to step aside.