Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (NY-D) is calling out the negotiators of the congressional budget bill. According to Politico, Sen. Gillibrand’s concern is over legislation reforms to the congressional sexual harassment process.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), whose sweeping rewrite of Hill harassment rules counts 30 Senate co-sponsors, said she was “appalled” that leadership in both chambers would not address the issue in the spending bill.
“It begs the question: Who are they trying to protect?” Gillibrand said in a statement. “I can’t think of any legitimate reason to remove this language other than to protect members of Congress over taxpayers and congressional employees.”
Sen. Gillibrand proposed reforms back in December that would create more transparency surrounding elected officials and workplace harassment violations and settlements.
The changes, which include an end to secret settlements involving members of Congress unless a victim requests they be kept private, comes amid a firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against powerful men across a variety of industries.
According to Politico, Sen. Gillibrand is putting pressure on the potential Senate attempt to nix important aspects of the bipartisan reform hammered out in the House, including who pays out congressional sexual harassment settlements and discrimination settlements.
House Democrats are blaming their Senate colleagues for the eleventh-hour change, saying a push by Senate Democrats to weaken language related to discrimination settlements is behind the standoff.
The House bill as passed would require lawmakers to pay for both sexual harassment and discrimination settlements out of pocket. But Senate Democrats want to nix the discrimination provisions, a “dramatic weakening of the bill,” according to one House aide.
Senate Democrats say that this is not true. And while the Politico article is slightly conflicting in how it goes about pointing fingers at “Senate Democrats” while Mitch McConnell’s spokesman defensively responds in a way that sounds like Sen. McConnell is a big part of this muddying of the waters, the overall point is clear—the sexual harassment and discrimination reforms agreed upon months ago are in jeopardy.