Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly helped the Senate pass bipartisan legislation that would reform the process by which victims pursue claims of sexual harassment in Congress. The legislation, which was led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and cosponsored by Donnelly, would reform the dispute resolution process, strengthen protections for staff, hold members of Congress accountable for harassment they personally commit, and increase transparency.
Donnelly said, “Harassment is unacceptable in any environment, including the U.S. Congress. I supported and helped pass this bipartisan legislation in the Senate, which would reform Congress’ outdated processes for handling workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. This legislation is a step forward because it would strengthen protections for harassment victims, increase transparency, and hold Members of Congress accountable by ensuring that taxpayers do not have to pay for Members’ misconduct.”
The Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act would eliminate the mandatory 30-day “counseling” period, 30-day mediation phase, and 30-day “cooling off” period that claimants are currently subjected to. The legislation would also allow a victim to immediately pursue mediation, an administrative hearing through the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (OCWR), or a civil action. It would extend protections to unpaid staff, including interns and fellows, and other Legislative Branch employees, and increase transparency through updated public reporting requirements. It would also increase accountability by requiring Members of Congress to repay awards and settlements stemming from acts of harassment they personally commit.