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Speier Says Congress Paid $15 Million for Harassment Settlements

Speier and Gillibrand to introduce legislation to deal with ‘an antiquated process’

California Rep. Jackie Speier has shed light on the longtime problem of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
California Rep. Jackie Speier has shed light on the longtime problem of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Jackie Speier said Tuesday that the House of Representatives has paid out more than $15 million over the last decade to settle harassment cases, though that number also includes discrimination claims.

Speier made the assertion on “Meet the Press Daily” after testifying in Congress about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. 

“Now, we do know that there is about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 10 to 15 years,” the California Democrat told Chuck Todd.

However, when asked how many members were involved in cases, Speier said she did not know the specific answer.

Speier’s office clarified Wednesday that the Office of Compliance, which handles workplace and accessibility issues on Capitol Hill, does not provide a breakdown for the type of discrimination payments made.

The OOC’s $15 million figure covered more than 200 payouts made from fiscal years 1997 to 2016 for all claims the office covered, such as racial and religious discrimination cases, discrimination against people with disabilities and sexual harassment, a Speier staffer said.

Watch: Speier: Current Congressional Sexual Misconduct Policy Belongs in ‘Dark Ages’

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During her testimony earlier Tuesday, Speier said that two current members of Congress had sexually harassed women

“Well, it is my responsibility to address the seriousness of this issue,” she said. “These survivors are subject to a non-disclosure agreement. I’m not going to violate their non-disclosure agreement.”

Speier referenced the legislation she is introducing with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to address sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Speier added it would also apply to fellows and interns.

“There will not be mandatory mediation. There will not be mandatory non-disclosure agreements,” she said. “There will be a special victim’s counsel for the victim to be represented by. All these will be steps in the right direction to deal with what is an antiquated process and, frankly, unacceptable in this day and age.”

The legislation will also require mandatory training for members and staff.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced Tuesday after Speier’s and Rep. Barbara Comstock’s testimony of incidents of sexual harassment that House members and their staffs will now be required to take mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.

Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.Clarification 10:15 a.m. | A spokesperson for Speier said the $15 million figure Speier cited covered all discrimination and harassment claims from fiscal years 1997 to 2016.

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