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Close, But No Cigar: Senate Wastes Historic Opportunity to Pass Strong Congressional Reforms

May 24, 2018

Close, But No Cigar: Senate Wastes Historic Opportunity to Pass Strong Congressional Reforms

Statements of Public Citizen Experts

Note: Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, which would reform congressional procedures for reporting and responding to discrimination and harassment within the legislative workforce. Public Citizen has worked as part of a coalition of civil rights, women’s rights and consumer organizations on a version that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February. More than 100 days since the House’s passed version, the Senate has taken action, but has passed a much weaker bill.

“The current bipartisan Senate bill misses the mark. The House passed an imperfect bill to reform a broken system, but it was a bill that would have moved the ball to help victims. The much weaker legislation that the Senate passed today would undermine the strong protections that the House passed. Under the leadership of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), we urge the House and Senate to instead work together to produce a final piece of legislation that we can all be proud of – one that holds members of Congress accountable for their actions when they harass or discriminate against staffers and brings greater transparency to the legislative branch.”

– Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs

“For more than 40 years, Public Citizen has fought for an open and accessible justice system for those who have been wronged. The legislative workforce deserves no less. The Senate’s proposal does not provide the strong mechanism of transparency and accountability that taxpayers deserve – for example, by ensuring that no taxpayer money is used to pay settlements for discrimination or harassment at the hands of a member of Congress.

We urge the House and Senate to come together and hash out a final proposal to send to the president’s desk that creates strong access to justice and protections for congressional staffers and places accountability of harassers and full transparency related to taxpayer funds at the center of congressional reform efforts.”

– Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights