A Democratic congresswoman in the United States has alleged that there are two sitting members in the US Congress who have engaged in sexual harassment. California Representative Jackie Speier, who previously shared her own story of being assaulted by a high level staffer, made the allegation during a House of Representatives committee hearing on sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.
"There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve, who have been subject to review or not have been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment." Speier told the Committee on House Administration.
"These harasser propositions, such as 'Are you going to be a good girl?' to perpetrators exposing their genitals to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor. All they ask in return, as staff members, is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment," Speier said. "They want the system fixed and the perpetrators held accountable."
After a slew of allegations against men in positions of power across America, the political sphere is coming under closer scrutiny with many asking whether the Hill has an adequate process for addressing claims of sexual harassment.
Members of the committee, along with witnesses, mentioned consistently that better training was needed across Congress to educate staff on sexual harassment. Virginia Representative Barbara Comstock said that she knew of a former staffer who had arrived at a member's house and was greeted by the lawmaker in a towel.
The member then exposed themselves to the staffer, Comstock says, adding that the staff member left the building and later her career in politics. Representative Susan Brooks, of the House's ethics committee, said that the political body "does have problems addressing reported and unreported" harassment.
Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin said that the committee should "be clear", the harassment "constitutes sex discrimination" and is therefore illegal. Raskin said that his chief of staff told him that she did not know "a single woman in her age group who has not experienced" this kind of harassment.
Rep Speier shared her story of sexual harassment along with the hashtag #metoo at the end of October, saying that a chief of staff "held my face, kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth" when she was a staff member in Congress.
The hearing continues.