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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

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

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