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New bill would end use of taxpayer money in sexual harassment settlements

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers in the House on Thursday unveiled a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment cases involving members of Congress and overhaul the system for reporting sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: This comes in response to a string of sexual misconduct allegations against members of Congress. The Office of Compliance, set up in 1995 under the Congressional Accountability Act, disclosed last year that Congress has paid more than $17.2 million in tax dollars over the last 20 years to settle 268 sexual misconduct and discrimination cases on Capitol Hill.

Key details of the bill:

  • Under the bill, lawmakers would have 90 days to reimburse the Treasury for awards and settlements paid on their behalf, even after they leave political office.
  • The Office of Compliance would be mandated to report and publish information online every 6 months on awards and settlements. It would include the lawmaker's office, settlement amount, the claims and whether the member has reimbursed the Treasury.
  • House employees would get access to legal consultation, representation, and assistance in proceedings before the Office of Compliance and Committee on Ethics.

Go deeper: Congress has paid $17 million in sexual misconduct and discrimination settlements