House to release sexual harassment legislation next week

Senate passes proposal to expand private health care for veterans
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center/CNN

House lawmakers plan to unveil their sexual harassment legislation next week on Capitol Hill, two Hill sources tell CNN.

The legislation has been worked on for months by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Reps. Gregg Harper of Mississippi and Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Administration Committee, as well as Reps. Jackie Speier, D-California, and Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama.

“We’re going to have a bill that’s supposed to come up next week that they’re just finishing, putting the finishing touches on it,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi confirmed at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The House Administration Committee will introduce the legislation with the goal of moving it quickly to a House vote this month, a committee aide tells CNN.

The legislation was originally expected to be released back in December, but was delayed as lawmakers left Washington for the holiday.

The legislation, which is still being finalized on Capitol Hill, would overhaul aspects of the Congressional Accountability Act, the decades-old law that put in place the system through which sexual harassment, discrimination and other workplace-related claims on Capitol Hill are handled.

“We have provided just strong benefits to victims that did not exist in the previous legislation — the previous law,” Speier said. “And probably the single most important element is that they will be represented by counsel, and there will not be mandatory mediation. There will not be a requirement for nondisclosure agreements. It would be victim-based. And there will be a full investigation now; we’re creating an office that is going to be actually investigating. So there are a lot of good things in this legislation, and I’m really just very pleased with the Republican engagement.”

Some last-minute changes to the legislation will likely also include how members of Congress can use their office funds to pay sexual harassment settlements, a congressional aide tells CNN. The new legislation will likely include language that bars lawmakers from using those funds for settlements.

The Senate is also working legislation, and the two sides have worked closely with each other throughout the process.