Nov 15, 2017

Lawmakers introduce "Me Too" bill targeting harassment in Congress

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."

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Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

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President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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