Sexual Harassment In Congress? There Are 'Always People Misbehaving,' Says Democrat Senator

The Senate unanimously passed a bi-partisan rule change last week to require all staffers and lawmakers to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training because "there are always people misbehaving," a member of the upper chamber said on Sunday.

“Have I seen a lot of that myself? No, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t go on,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“There are always people misbehaving," she added. "We know the statistics that a very small percentage of women and victims of harassment, which sometimes can be men, actually come forward and report. We have to change that."

Indeed, in a CQ Roll Call survey of congressional staff taken in July, four out of 10 women said they felt sexual harassment in Congress was a problem, while one in 10 said they had personally experienced such harassment.

There was, of course, some grumbling in the Senate about the mandatory training, despite the eventual passage of the new rule.

Klobuchar told NPR that some senators told her, “Well, I've been here a long time and I've never done anything wrong," prompting her to say, "I'm sure that's true. We just think everyone should do it."

The allegations of instances of harassment in Congress were brought to light by Representative Jackie Speier, who commented on harassment in a YouTube video shared alongside the #MeToo campaign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"I was working as a congressional staffer, the chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she said of her experience with harassment in the hallowed halls of American government.

“So I know what's it's like to keep these things hidden deep down inside. I know what it's like to lie awake in bed at night and wondering if I was the one who had done something wrong," she added.

Following her claims, former representatives Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as well as former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and current representative Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) also came forward to the Associated Press with harassment allegations

08_31_Comey_Clinton_Grassley Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate intelligence committee, on June 8. On August 30, Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to new FBI Director Christopher Wray about Comey. Drew Angerer/Getty

The rule change was initiated by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who said on November 1 that "sexual harassment training is vitally important to maintaining a respectful and productive work environment in Congress."

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