Kilili and Radewagen team up on anti-sexual harassment bill

Dec 4, 2017

Saipan Tribune WASHINGTON, D.C. - Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) and his insular area colleague Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-A. Samoa) have teamed up to co-sponsor the Me Too Congress Act, a bill that makes sexual harassment complaints in Congress easier for victims to file and for the public to see.

Introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) earlier this month, the Me Too Congress Act also makes members of Congress personally liable for any settlement payments arising from harassment claims and requires members and their staff to take annual anti-harassment training.

“To make this a truly bipartisan effort, Ms. Speier asked that co-sponsors come on board as a pair, one Democrat, one Republican,” Sablan explained. “The Noah’s Ark system.

“I want to thank my Republican colleague, Ms. Radewagen, for accepting my invitation to join me in supporting the effort to lift the veil of secrecy that has existed here in Congress for too long on sexual harassment and to make it easier for victims to come forward.”

“There’s simply no place for harassment in the halls of Congress, or anywhere else,” said Amata. “I welcome this bipartisan effort to help protect employees. We want the highest professional standards of decency practiced in the U.S. Capitol.”

In dramatic testimony before introducing her legislation, Speier reported her own experience as a congressional staff person in the 1970s, being sexually harassed by her chief of staff. She said that she knew of two sitting members of Congress guilty of the behavior and revealed the existence of a special House account from which payments have been made to victims of harassment.

Shortly after, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) issued a directive, effective House-wide, requiring sexual harassment training. And on Thursday last week, the House voted to confirm this requirement.

“I already require everyone in the Marianas congressional office—including myself—to take the sexual harassment training offered by the chief administrative officer of the House,” Sablan said. “So, I applaud the speaker’s action. I also think that this should be required by law for all House offices, which the Me Too Congress Act does.”

Sablan’s office manual also sets out detailed procedures to follow for anyone who believes they have been subject to sexual harassment or harassment based on race, religion, age, disability, color, or military status.

“No one should have to choose between their livelihood and being abused, bullied, or worse in their workplace,” Sablan said. (PR)