SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts

House Democrats form task force to address sexual harassment

A small group of House Democrats have formed an informal task force on sexual harassment as at least three lawmakers ...

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 8:56 AM
Updated: Dec 14, 2017 8:56 AM

A small group of House Democrats have formed an informal task force on sexual harassment as at least three lawmakers facing sexual harassment allegations have stepped aside in the past month and as others continue to face accusations and ethics investigations.

The group, which has met quietly at least four times in the past few weeks, is addressing a range of questions, including whether the Democratic caucus needs to adjust its own culture and practices, and plans to come up with a recommendation at some point.

A House Democratic group has met quietly at least four times in the past few weeks

The organization is focusing on how to address issues of sexual harassment

"(We) are looking for ways which we can possibly even amend our own rules of our caucus in terms of conduct and standards of conduct for members of the Democratic caucus," Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the Democratic caucus who also sits on the task force, told reporters Wednesday.

The working group was created by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and includes members from the House Administration Committee, as well as former members on the Ethics Committee. Members who have worked on relevant legislation -- such as Reps. Jackie Speier, Brenda Lawrence and Lois Frankel -- are also on the committee.

Focusing on transparency and compensation, the group of about a dozen members is seeking guidance from outside lawyers and experts, as well as representatives of victims and advocacy groups. While the task force is currently categorized as an informal group, members have said they hope it leads to potential legislation down the road.

Sexual harassment has been a dominant topic on Capitol Hill this fall as allegations came to light against Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who announced last week he plans to resign, and Rep. John Conyers, who announced his immediate retirement also last week.

The Democratic task force is just one of many efforts by both sides of the aisle to tackle an issue that's unveiled great angst and frustration across Congress.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers already introduced legislation that aims to overhaul the way sexual harassment is treated on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Paul Ryan last month pushed for offices to step up their sexual harassment training, and the House later passed a resolution mandating such training. The Republican-led House Administration Committee has also held two major hearings on the issue in the past month.

Democratic leaders have also called for the resignation of freshman Democrat Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who's facing claims of sexual harassment by a former campaign employee. Kihuen has repeatedly said he will not resign.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned last week amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, and Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, is also facing allegations and has previously used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, the vice chair of the Democratic caucus, said Wednesday that the task force is hoping to work with Republicans at some point on the issue. A big component, she said, is to reform the complaint process for victims.

"Right now, the deck has been stacked against them with regard to the process with reporting these kinds of claims," she said. "We need to change the culture in the Capitol so that folks understand that there is zero tolerance and it's not acceptable."

The Office of Compliance, which oversees workplace disputes in Congress, has come under intense scrutiny after it announced last month it has paid more than $17 million since its creation in the 1990s. That includes all settlements, not just related to sexual harassment, but also discrimination and other cases.

Problems have also been reported involving the complaint filing process, which has been described as lengthy and antiquated.

Ryan has touted an effort led by House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper to overhaul the process for reporting and processing claims against lawmakers and staffers.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 391099

Reported Deaths: 5161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60298839
Washington41981395
Marion39886506
Clackamas32773378
Lane30113355
Jackson24880360
Deschutes23557185
Umatilla15126180
Linn14637179
Douglas13375291
Josephine10148244
Yamhill9762143
Klamath9053146
Polk8212100
Benton609738
Malheur592487
Coos5664106
Columbia430455
Jefferson420266
Lincoln362152
Union338755
Crook334056
Wasco316146
Clatsop261835
Baker219833
Tillamook216645
Hood River213737
Morrow197525
Curry191939
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105416
Wallowa75713
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5083462

Reported Deaths: 74473
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152713227166
San Diego4069274335
Riverside3876785358
San Bernardino3745435962
Orange3343985725
Sacramento1683542443
Kern1576621804
Fresno1567952254
Santa Clara1520891925
Alameda1251761504
San Joaquin1075591834
Ventura1040031190
Contra Costa1037721046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare860871096
San Francisco56909669
San Mateo56320629
Monterey52488626
Solano47671357
Santa Barbara47293549
Merced45053667
Sonoma43168412
Placer42141470
Imperial38477773
Kings35206363
San Luis Obispo31476359
Madera26194311
Shasta26081451
Butte25455314
Santa Cruz22248224
Yolo21558257
Marin18465249
El Dorado18301166
Sutter14571186
Napa13420104
Yuba1076089
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10158119
Nevada10019105
Mendocino857197
Lassen796756
San Benito781578
Tuolumne773090
Lake7043110
Amador577366
Siskiyou474755
Glenn457436
Calaveras441588
Del Norte375542
Colusa325220
Inyo256646
Plumas19367
Mono18784
Mariposa160018
Trinity99717
Modoc7655
Unassigned3220
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 40°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 40°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 40°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Stagnant and dry weather continue all week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events