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Amid scandal, House approves anti-harassment training bill

Capitol, seat of United States Congress, Washington DC, District of Columbia, USA, 18th-19th century (Getty Images)

Amid sexual harassment allegations in Congress, the House approved a bill requiring lawmakers and staff to take yearly anti-harassment training.

Lawmakers OK'd the bill by voice vote, with no objections. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who sponsored the bill alongside Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), described it as a watershed moment. Earlier this month, the Senate passed similar measures.

"Important first step"

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) described the bill as an important first in dealing with sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

"We cannot and will not tolerate this kind of behavior," Ryan said. "We're taking issues of sexual harassment very seriously We're going to continue to do that but we need to do a comprehensive review of all of these things so that we can have a comprehensive response."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rebuked harassers and called for reform. “No matter how great the legacy," said Pelosi, "it is not a license to harass and abuse.”

Uncanny timing

The bipartisan resolution follows a spate of Congressional controversies, some as recent as this morning, when former employees accused Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) of sexual harassment. Conyers was not present for Wednesday's session. Other controversies continue to unfold — like those involving Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Both the controversy and the Congressional reform come as sexual abuse and harassment scandals affect nearly every facet of American life, most notably the news media and the film industry, in an abrupt, society-wide overhaul.

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