-- Two members of Congress said today that some of their colleagues have engaged in sexual harassment with staffers and others, including exposing their genitals, groping women on the House floor and asking apparently lewd questions such as "are you going to be a good girl?"
The comments came during the House Administration Committee's first hearing to review sexual misconduct policy in the House of Representatives.
"I have had numerous meetings with phone calls with staffers, both present and former, women and men who have been subjected to this inexcusable and often illegal behavior," she said. "In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who ... have engaged in sexual harassment."
She went on, "These harasser propositions such as, 'are you going to be a good girl.' to perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor. All they ask as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment. They want the system fixed, and the perpetrators held accountable."
Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., a member of the committee who has served as a Hill staffer, said she was recently alerted to a situation involving another current member of Congress who exposed himself to a female staffer delivering materials to his home.
Previously, that was left to each member's office. A House-wide policy would require legislation to take effect.
"Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution," Ryan said in a statement.
Speier has proposed mandating harassment training, instituting biannual surveys to address the scope of the problem on Capitol Hill and reforming the "broken" reporting process, which she described as slow and ineffective.
"Is it any wonder that many staffers never file formal complaints? There is zero accountability and transparency," she said.
Barbara Child Wallace, the chair of the Office of Compliance's board of directors, defended the existing process, and told the committee more could be done to raise awareness of the current reporting procedures.