Success! Congress Passes Sexual Misconduct Bill

Since Tarana Burke created #MeToo, the movement has impacted many famous stars – especially those within the entertainment industry. Harvey WeinsteinKevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and Les Moonves are just a few of the celebrities who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

But the United States Congress has seemed to remain above the law. Representatives Patrick Meehan and Blake Farenthold are among the half dozen who have had to retire or resign due to allegations of sexual misconduct. And even so, they were able to get away with using taxpayer money to settle their cases. 

Congress last passed a bill related to sexual harassment in 1995, so it was clearly time for an update — especially in light of #MeToo. In January 2018, after several months of deliberation, the House introduced a bipartisan bill: the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act.

The bill — much of which came from a proposal by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a leader on the issue of sexual harassment — sought to give victims more rights, to create a level playing field for accuser and accused, and to simplify the whole process.

But after almost a full year, the bill had still not passed. That’s when Care2′s Kevin Mathews jumped into action and created a petition asking Congress to pass this bill, which would require members to hold themselves to higher standards and root out sexual misconduct in our nation’s federal government.

His petition also cited Congress Too, “a group of over 1,500 former Capitol Hill staffers concerned about this issue, putting pressure on both legislative bodies to get the job done before the end of the year.”

The Care2 petition garnered over 29,000 signatures from people tired of seeing members of Congress not being held to the same standards as the rest of the population.

Success!

The bill was introduced into the Senate by Amy Klobuchar, D – Minn., passed by unanimous consent December 13, 2018 and signed into law by Trump on December 21. 

Thank you to all the Care2 members who signed this petition, lending support to the groundswell of activists working to promote the passage of the Congressional Accountability Bill of 1995 Reform Act and force Congress to enter the 21st century.

Jackie Speier is especially proud of her accomplishment:

Time’s up. Time is finally up for members of congress who think they can sexually harass and get away with it. They will no longer be able to slink away with no one knowing that they have harassed. There will be transparency and members will be held accountable.

Specifically, the measures mean that members of Congress are held personally liable for any settlements around harassment or any retaliation that they have personally committed, whether or not they leave office. They are no longer permitted to use taxpayer funds to pay out settlements; instead, they must pay up within 90 days or their wages may be garnished.

The American Civil Liberties Union added:

Members of Congress owe it to the legislative workforce to ensure that the halls of power are free from sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination. We look forward to working with both parties and in both chambers to make that promise a reality not only in Congress, but in every workplace across the country.

Let’s give another shout-out here to Tarana Burke, who coined the phrase “Me Too” in 2006. She was a sexual assault survivor herself and wanted to support other women of color who had survived sexual violence.

Congratulations again to Kevin Mathews and the Care2 members who signed his petition.

If you’re inspired by his success, why not join the Care2 community and create your own petition about something that concerns you? Follow these guidelines and soon you’ll find Care2 members signing up to support you.

 

Photo Credit: Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

33 comments

Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek20 days ago

:-)

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Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek20 days ago

:-)

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Ashley B
Ashley Burke1 months ago

Thanks fir caring

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Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

it's a start...

thank you Judy...

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Val P
Val P2 months ago

good

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silja salonen
silja salonen3 months ago

excellent

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Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D3 months ago

The ACLU got it 100% right.

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Karen H
Karen H3 months ago

They passed it, but let's see if they enforce it.

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