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Senate backs new anti-sexual harassment training rules

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday mandating training for senators and staff to combat sexual harassment.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the Rules and Administration Committee, sponsored the final version of the resolution.

"Making harassment training mandatory in the Senate sends a clear message: harassment of any kind is not and will not be tolerated in Congress. Period," the Minnesota Democrat said. "Sexual and workplace harassment is a widespread problem that affects too many women and men in too many places, professions, and industries. Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable at work, and the passage of this official Senate policy is an important measure to ensure that's the case in these halls."

Just Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, circulated a resolution along the same lines. Grassley has pushed for the Rules Committee to take action over the past few weeks.

As adopted, the resolution would also require anti-harassment training related to a variety of protected groups, including racial minorities and persons with disabilities. The deadline is 60 days from enactment of the new policy, meaning offices should be meeting compliance requirements by early January.

The resolution requires reporting at the end of each Congress.

The training will be required at least once per new Congress and for new employees (everyone from interns to senators).

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general, was also among the senators involved in the resolution.

"Today, the United States Senate has sent a clear message that sexual harassment has no place in our country, our workplaces, and in the United States Congress," said Cortez Masto. "Comprehensive mandatory anti-harassment training will now be a critical component of how we show our employees they are valued, respected, and protected. Our bipartisan resolution is a strong statement and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to make the Senate a safe place, free of any type of harassment or discrimination."

The adoption of the resolution came just hours after a disturbing report from The Washington Post about inappropriate conduct by Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in the special election for Senate in Alabama.

Moore is accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Republican senators rushed to call for Moore to get out of the race if the allegations are true.

The reporting by The Post includes on-the-record accounts.

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