Lawmakers are returning to Capitol Hill today, where they’re facing escalating pressure to reveal which lawmakers have used taxpayer money to pay out at least $17 million in settlements for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. While many members of Congress are pushing to pass a resolution to require mandatory sexual harassment awareness training, Congressmember Jackie Speier is introducing legislation to make all sexual harassment settlements public. The bill would also end a mandatory “cooling-off period” before accusers could file sexual harassment claims.
Michigan Congressmember John Conyers is stepping aside as the ranking Democratic lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee, after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct. Conyers reportedly paid out $27,000 to one woman who alleged she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances. The news of the settlement was first reported by BuzzFeed, after a white supremacist blogger gave BuzzFeed the documents. Conyers denies the accusations. Meanwhile, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken says he will not resign from the Senate, but is returning to Capitol Hill today feeling “embarrassed and ashamed” after three women accused him of groping them without their consent.
This all comes as President Trump continues to offer support for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexually harassing or assaulting at least nine women when they were children or young adults. On Sunday, Trump slammed Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones, tweeting: “The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet.” Trump himself has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by at least 16 women.