- Lawmakers have long been able to use taxpayers' money to pay for sexual harassment settlements.
- A new piece of bipartisan legislation would prohibit that practice, requiring members to pay such settlements themselves.
- It would also allow accusers to file complaints without being forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
An arcane system on Capitol Hill has long left taxpayers on the hook to pay for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress, but new legislation would require members to pay such settlements themselves, NBC News reported Thursday.
The bipartisan bill follows months of sexual harassment and assault allegations levied against high-profile public figures in Hollywood, the media and government. The deluge of accusations led to the resignation or retirement of six members of Congress, including former Sen. Al Franken and former Rep. John Conyers, and sparked the #MeToo awareness movement.
The bill would prohibit lawmakers from paying settlements in sexual harassment claims with taxpayers' money. It would also allow accusers to file complaints without being forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Complainants will, however, have to file their claims under oath, NBC reported.
Lawmakers involved in crafting the legislation described a cooperative effort among both political parties to pass new protections for victims.