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Two members of Congress engaged in sexual harassment, lawmakers say

Two members of Congress engaged in sexual harassment, lawmakers say

"In fact there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who serve right now who have been subject to review, or not been subject to review, that have engaged in sexual harassment", said Speier.

Stories of sexual harassment and gender hostility are continuing to come to light in various industries, including entertainment and politics.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

It comes amid growing calls for an overhaul of the way Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment, including a letter signed by more than 1,500 former Hill staffers who want to see reform for what they say are "inadequate" sexual harassment policies in Congress. The review came in response to the increased attention that has been placed on sexual abuse in workplaces big and small across the country. Tuesday's hearing was stark and sometimes graphic.

The claims also come as conservative former judge Roy Moore, a candidate for US Senate, faces startling accusations by five women claiming he sexually assaulted or pursued them when they were teenagers in Alabama.

Lawmakers Tuesday focused also on the long-term effects of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Capitol. "And especially in Congress", said the panel's chairman, Gregg Harper. "All they ask for in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment", Speier testified.

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"There are a lot of tales of these guys going out and behaving very badly with younger staffers", said a former House staffer.

"What are we doing here for women right now", she added, "who are dealing with someone like that?"

One Senate aide said Congress was "a sort of old school, Wild West workplace culture that has a lot of "work hard, play hard" ethos and without the sort of standard professionalism that you find in more traditional workplaces".

Later this week, Speier will also introduce legislation to overhaul the process that victims of harassment undergo when they file complaints to the Office of Compliance, which she has called "toothless" and says is created to protect harassers and not the harassed.

Many lawmakers and victims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill have complained about the process by which sexual harassment reports are handled at the Capitol.

Earlier this month, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), now a member of the House Democratic leadership, told The Associated Press that a male lawmaker had repeatedly ogled her and at one point inappropriately touched her on the House floor. After 30 days of mandatory mediation, during which the office or member is represented by House of Representatives counsel, they then have to go through a 30 day "cooling off period".

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