Effective immediately: House bans sexual relationships between lawmakers and their staffers

Effective immediately: House bans sexual relationships between lawmakers and their staffers
The House passed a House resolution to prohibit sexual relationships between lawmakers and their staffers. The measure is effective immediately. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved H. Res. 724, a measure that prohibits sexual relationships between lawmakers and their staffers.

The bill, pushed by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), is the first significant step toward changing the system that has faced numerous sexual misconduct scandals against lawmakers in recent months amid the nationwide #MeToo movement.

The measure is effective immediately, according to the Washington Post. The bill affects the House only.

What does H. Res. 724 do?

• Sexual relationships between House members and employee they supervise are prohibited.

• A nonpartisan Office of Employee Advocacy will be established to assist employees with claims of sexual harassment.

• Accusers will no longer be required to undergo counseling and mediation.

• Each member must adopt policies that prohibit harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

• Members must certify they are not using their budgets to settle workplace claims.

Were there any rules about relationships before this bill?

No. There were no explicit rules prohibiting relationships between lawmakers and employees before today.

What else?

A separate bill, reforming the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, was also approved. It requires lawmakers to reimburse taxpayers when they are involved in a workplace settlement.

This bill must also pass the Senate. It’s not immediately clear when the upper chamber might take action on it.

What else is in the reform bill?

•  The House Ethics Committee will automatically review cases that have settled.

•  Workplace protections are extended to include unpaid staff and interns.

•  Staffers will have the ability to file a complaint and a lawsuit simultaneously.

Which lawmakers have resigned over sexual misconduct allegations?

• Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
• Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.),
• Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.)
• Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)

Who isn’t running for re-election because of sexual misconduct scandals?

• Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)
• Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)
• Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.)
• Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.)

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