All 22 female senators slam chamber's 'inaction' on sexual harassment

Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Murray spearhead movement

By SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN
CNN

(CNN) - All 22 Democratic and Republican female senators have written a letter to Senate leadership expressing their "deep disappointment" in the Senate's "inaction" in moving sexual harassment legislation forward. They are calling for a vote on the legislation that would overhaul how sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill.

"We write to express our deep disappointment that the Senate has failed to enact meaningful reforms to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995," the letter says. "We urge you to bring before the full Senate legislation that would update and strengthen the procedures available to survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination in congressional workplaces."

The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was spearheaded by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray and signed by every woman US senator.

The House of Representatives passed a version of the legislation last month that would reform the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up the arduous process for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill and would hold lawmakers personally liable for paying settlements.

But in the nearly two months since, there has been little progress in pushing the legislation forward in the Senate.

The legislation was noticeably left out of the massive, 2,232-page spending bill that Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law last week -- calling into question its path forward.

The spending bill had been widely seen among lawmakers as the best possible vehicle to attach legislation addressing sexual harassment. And it is seen by many as likely the last piece of major legislation to make it to the President's desk this year, as the midterm elections grow closer.

Schumer acknowledged to CNN in the aftermath of negotiations over the spending bill that there were some disagreements among "specific provisions" in the sexual-harassment legislation, which in part prevented it from being included in the spending bill. But Schumer predicted something would get done soon.

"We are going to get something done," Schumer said last week. "It's a very important issue and we're going to get something done in the next little while."

David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told CNN there's a bipartisan group that is continuing to work on the legislation yet made no indications about the timeline for the legislation's path forward.

"I don't yet have a prediction on when that will be completed," Popp said.

The push for legislation on Capitol Hill started last fall in the wake of the #MeToo movement and came after reports surfaced of how some lawmakers have settled sexual harassment complaints quietly -- some using taxpayer money.

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