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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) & Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) speak at a press conference on sexual harassment in Congress. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at streamlining the response to sexual harassment in Congress. The "Me Too" Act calls for more transparency, an overhaul of the flawed complaint process, and better support for victims.

Key quote: "There is a serious sexual harassment problem in Congress, and too many congressional offices are not taking this problem seriously at all," said Gillibrand.

Get smart: The rules on Capitol Hill regarding sexual assault require an extensive reporting process, and several critics argue the that the system values the institution over the victims.

  • For someone who works on Capitol Hill, pursuing a harassment hearing or filing a lawsuit against a congressman or staff member first requires counseling through the Office of Compliance. The counseling can take up to 30 days, and informs the accusers of their legal rights.
  • Next they must undergo mediation with the person they are accusing, during which they sign a nondisclosure agreement. The accuser is required to provide their own legal counsel, while the accused gets a House lawyer.
  • After another 30-90 days, referred to as the "cooling off" period, the accuser can file an official complaint.
  • Take note: Interns and fellows do not have access to this process.

Yesterday, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the House will require anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staffs. The Senate introduced similar legislation last week. Speier said move is "a good first step, but much more is needed to fix the broken complaint system that values the institution over individuals."

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

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