Political News

Kirsten Gillibrand trying to force Senate to act on stalled sexual harassment legislation

Posted May 16, 2018 6:41 p.m. EDT

— New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will take to the Senate floor Thursday attempting to utilize a rare procedural maneuver -- known as Rule 14 -- to try to force Senate leadership's hand to advance sexual harassment legislation, which would overhaul how such complaints are handled on Capitol Hill.

Rule 14 is a procedure that would put the legislation directly on the floor, bypassing committee.

The maneuver would not guarantee a full vote on the legislation. But it would shine a spotlight on the Senate's inaction on the issue -- coinciding with a symbolic 100 days since the House of Representatives passed their version of the legislation.

In the three months since the fate of the legislation has been in the Senate's hands there have been a series of roadblocks, stumbles and stalled momentum as Senate negotiators they have worked to rewrite parts of the legislation to a product that can pass in the upper chamber. The legislation would reform the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up the process for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill and would hold lawmakers personally liable for paying settlements.

The Senate negotiators, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota who have been working on the compromise legislation, both told CNN this week they are nearing a finalized version of the legislation and hope to get agreement this week and legislation out in the Senate before the Memorial Day recess.

"I think we're coming to a conclusion here and hopefully we'll reach that conclusion very quickly," Blunt said Tuesday.

"We are very close," Klobuchar echoed Tuesday. "We hope to get an agreement this week."

But as of Wednesday afternoon, it did appear a that a final deal had been struck yet.

At issue is mainly still the nuances over the personal liability aspect of the legislation as it was written and passed by the House of Representatives, which would hold lawmakers personally responsible for paying any settlement themselves, rather than allowing them to use taxpayer's money out of a little-known account of the US Treasury.

"(Talks) are continuing," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, also of New York, said Wednesday afternoon when asked by CNN about the status of negotiations, "We are making progress."

Gillibrand is likely to be joined by several other Democratic senators, including Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon among others during her floor speech Thursday.