Deal struck on sexual harassment legislation on Capitol Hill

House and Senate negotiators have struck a deal over...

Posted: Dec 13, 2018 1:54 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2018 1:54 PM

House and Senate negotiators have struck a deal over long-stalled legislation to revamp the way sexual harassment complaints are made and handled on Capitol Hill, multiple congressional sources close to the process told CNN on Wednesday, likely assuring the bill's final passage this year.

The bill will reconcile the House- and Senate-passed versions into one bill that overhauls the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up and oversees how sexual harassment claims are handled and -- for the first time -- will hold lawmakers liable for paying harassment settlements from their own pockets, rather than using US taxpayer money as had been done in the past.

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Discrimination

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Legislation

Politics

Sex crimes

Sexual harassment

Sexual misconduct

Societal issues

Society

US Congress

US House of Representatives

US Senate

Violence in society

Political Figures - US

Roy Blunt

Senate negotiators will act first and will move this as a standalone bill, expected to pass by a unanimous consent agreement, as early as Thursday. That would send the bill to the House for its passage and then to the President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

A House GOP leadership aide told CNN that when the Senate sends it to the House, members will pass it very quickly after. But it is still unclear whether final passage will happen this week.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who's one of the chief negotiators of the sexual harassment bill, confirmed the deal was "done."

"I think the final hurdle was getting through the election and getting everyone here for more than one day at the same time," Blunt said. "Everybody will understand their personal liability and their personal responsibility and that will be a good thing."

In a statement Wednesday, Blunt and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that the final bipartisan bill would "reform the dispute resolution process, protect workers, increase transparency and hold Members of Congress accountable."

The breakthrough comes more than a year since the #metoo wave hit Capitol Hill and just in the nick of time. Had Congress been unable to reach agreement before the end of the year, each chamber's legislation that passed earlier in the year would have expired.

The House passed its version in February. The Senate wrote its own bill, a vastly different version, in May and legislators have been working for the past seven months, in fits and starts, to compromise over the details.

Blunt called the deal "a good combination of the House and Senate bill."

The final proposed text of the bill, which CNN obtained from a source close to the negotiations, would streamline the process by eliminating the arduous process that included a 30-day counseling period, a 30-day mediation period and a 30-day "cooling off period" a staffer had to previously go through before they could even officially make a complaint.

According to the text of the bill, all settlements would be automatically referred to the ethics committees, maintained in a new electronic system for better record keeping, and made public, including the names of any personally liable members.

The legislation would provide legal counsel for House staff who file complaints, but not for Senate staff. For Senate staff, a legal advocate would be provided instead who could provide consultation and assistance but not counsel, according to the text.

However, the measure holds individual members personally liable for harassment and retaliation settlements only. It does not apply to other forms of discrimination such as gender discrimination or pregnancy discrimination, which the House-passed bill had included. So members, if held personally liable for discrimination, could still dip into US Treasury funds to settle those kinds of claims.

Asked about this Wednesday by CNN, Blunt downplayed personal liability for discrimination being left out.

"It really was always about harassment and individual activity and discrimination is much broader," Blunt said.

California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN they will work to introduce a subsequent bill with all of the things they don't get into this bill, like personal liability as it applies to discrimination, at the beginning of the next Congress.

Klobuchar said the deal being reached after more than a year is "very rewarding."

"No one is above the law," Klobuchar said. "And that (is) whether it is for a crime or some kind of civil liability and I think that is a very important message to send."

This has been updated with additional developments.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
32° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 26°
Florence
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 37°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
32° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Overcast
31° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 31°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
28° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 28°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 384285

Reported Deaths: 4688
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby49412681
Davidson44374425
Knox19960157
Rutherford18788164
Hamilton17857157
Williamson1195183
Sumner10404138
Out of TN864355
Wilson794383
Montgomery706985
Sullivan6913105
Washington6469114
Maury632070
Putnam609883
Blount598662
Bradley564337
Madison5555111
Unassigned526924
Sevier523833
Robertson400253
Tipton383939
Hamblen369762
Gibson337070
Greene333073
Dyer329352
Anderson319730
Dickson303835
Coffee302642
Carter295256
Bedford294934
Lawrence288536
Obion277551
McMinn277056
Cumberland271737
Roane253331
Warren250720
Jefferson242534
Loudon240920
Fayette235239
Monroe231245
Hardeman229238
Weakley224736
Franklin223138
Lauderdale211523
Hawkins208835
Wayne197210
Henderson194334
Trousdale192212
Macon188429
White187319
Rhea185933
Hardin184825
Marshall184222
Carroll183835
Lincoln175118
Cheatham169417
Cocke169230
Haywood168530
Campbell163723
Henry162619
Overton157135
Giles155749
Smith149620
Johnson146023
McNairy142733
Fentress126121
Hickman124019
DeKalb123923
Bledsoe12115
Lake11896
Crockett118228
Scott11717
Marion116619
Grainger108517
Chester105521
Decatur97213
Claiborne9639
Unicoi93526
Benton87114
Lewis80715
Cannon8034
Grundy80314
Morgan7886
Humphreys7608
Union7595
Jackson72010
Polk70515
Stewart62416
Houston60320
Clay57118
Sequatchie5665
Meigs52212
Perry50822
Moore4132
Pickett39814
Van Buren3862
Hancock1894

Community Events