Rep. Jackie Speier: Congress Needs to Take Sexual Harassment Classes

‘It is just not okay for us to conduct ourselves in that manner’

SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE: "Ms. Speier, for five minutes."
SPEIER: "Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, I've spent a fair amount of time on the House floor talking about sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape in the military. In fact, I've spoken some 30 times about that issue. But it's apparent that we also need to spend some time talking about sexual harassment in this chamber. This is the Congress of the United States of America. This is the House of Representatives of the United States of America. This is not a frat house.

Regrettably this week, another one of our colleagues was discovered engaged in inappropriate action with one of his staff. This is not the first time. It will probably not be the last time. It happens on the Republican side, it happens on the Democratic side. that doesn't make it OK.

Almost 25 years ago, Anita Hill testified before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate. There were six male senators that questioned her, suggested that she somehow had wanted it or was lying. I remember watching that testimony and throwing my slipper at the television, I was so mad. That was 1991. The following year in 1992, it was called the year of the woman in Congress, because that year more women were elected to Congress than ever before because women were mad. In fact in California, we elected two U.S. Senators, senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

It is time for us to recognize that we have a problem. It is not OK to fondle a staff member. It is not OK to make suggestive comments to a staff member. It is not OK to have provocative pictures on your computer. It is just not OK to conduct ourselves in that manner.

So today I'm introducing a bill, a bill I've been working on for some time that will require that every member of this House participate in a training on sexual harassment at least once every two years and that every staff member of the House do the same thing. We're only asking ourselves to do what is being done by over 60 percent of the corporations in this country. In fact in California, I carried legislation that required the posting of signage in every corporation about what the rights and responsibilities were, what sexual harassment was, what steps you could take. And then we took steps to make sure that every member of the state legislature was subject to sexual harassment training at least once every two years.

Here in Congress, there's an office of compliance, but ironically, the office of compliance is where you might report sexual harassment but then the office of compliance is responsible for protecting the office. Go figure. It is time, Mr. Speaker, it is time for us to clean up our act. It is time. I yield back."

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