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15 November 2017, 12:40 | Opal Carroll
At hearing on sexual harassment in Congress, Virginia Rep. Comstock tells story of sitting member exposing himself to staffer
Speier's comments came during a House Administration Committee hearing on harassment policies on Capitol Hill where she stated: "In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve, who have been subject to review or have not been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment".
The announcement came at the heels of a morning-long House hearing on sexual harassment where some members of Congress brought up concerns about sexual harassment in the legislative branch and reviewed the institutions in place for reporting and addressing such behavior.
'That kind of situation, what are we doing here for women, right now, who are dealing with someone like that?' Comstock asked.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) also told the committee that incidents of sexual harassment and assault were likely being conducted by current House members, telling the story of an unnamed representative who allegedly showed their genitals to a female staffer.
Speier, a Democrat who has gone public with her own allegations of sexual assault while she served as a Hill aide decades ago, testified before the panel Tuesday that two now sitting members of Congress - one Democrat, one Republican - have "engaged in sexual harassment" but have not yet been reviewed.
"I strongly encourage you to complete sexual harassment training and to mandate the training for your staff".
CNN spoke with more than 50 lawmakers, current and former Hill aides and political veterans who have worked in Congress, the majority of whom spoke anonymously to be candid and avoid potential repercussions.
Speier has introduced legislation to require annual sexual harassment awareness training for lawmakers and staff, who would have to file a certificate of completion with the House Ethics Committee.
One lawmaker, Republican Rodney Davis of IL, said that some female staffers in his office anxious that "some offices might take a shortcut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues". Tuesday's hearing was stark and sometimes graphic.
Comstock did not name the member of Congress, whose name wasn't disclosed to her. "They want the system fixed and the perpetrators held accountable".
Speier added that staff members on Capitol Hill deserve to "be able to work in a hostile free work environment". "The victim has no counsel, no support".
The lawmaker said that now, if a victim of harassment were to report to the compliance office, they would first be required to undergo mandatory counseling for 30 days.
"Leadership within each office is also important, and letting the employees know where they can go to complain is vitally important", Childs Wallace told lawmakers.
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