The Washington Examiner is reporting the following today:
A House Republican introduced legislation Wednesday that would make public all legislative branch settlement payments made in the past two decades and would force lawmakers and staff to repay harassment claims settled on their behalf.
This is long overdue. The practice should not have begun in the first place. There also needs to a private audit of government expenses to see what else Congress has been spending money on that the public is unaware of.
The article further reports:
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pledged a “comprehensive” examination of harassment problems, beginning with a Dec. 7 hearing in the House Administration Committee. The panel will scrutinize the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, which instituted a prohibition of discrimination and harassment in the legislative branch.
One thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes a person will simply pay a person bringing charges because it is easier than fighting the charges. That needs to be considered in looking at these cases–how much time would a Congressman lose fighting a charge that wasn’t true? Also, not all of these cases were sexual harassment cases–some were discrimination. Again, how many were settled because it was simply easier than going to court? What we need is a way to distinguish false charges from valid charges so that appropriate actions can be taken. I am not sure Congress is capable of that. However, the bill that Representative De Santis has introduced is a good first step toward ending a pattern of horribly adolescent behavior in Congress. Let’s see if Congress is willing to pass the bill.