Political News

Paul Ryan pushes sexual harassment training on the Hill

Posted November 3, 2017 5:26 p.m. EDT

— House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday called for House members and staff to step up their sexual harassment training in the wake of bombshell allegations of sexual misconduct that have shaken powerful industries, institutions and organizations across the country.

"I strongly encourage you to complete sexual harassment training and to mandate the training for your staff. We can and should lead by example," Ryan said in a letter to members and staff. "Our goal must be a culture where everyone who works in our offices feels safe and able to fulfill their duties."

Currently there is no requirement for sexual harassment training in the House of Representatives, although each individual office may elect to voluntarily have their staff attend training by the Office of Compliance.

Some, like California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, say it is time to put new rules in places, charging that Capitol Hill is a "breeding ground" for hostility and misconduct. After coming out for the first time last week with her own allegations of sexual assault, which she claims happened 40 years ago as a young Capitol Hill aide, Speier has proposed legislation which would change the House's policy -- including making sexual assault training mandatory for members and their staff.

Ryan's office did not return a request for comment on whether he would support of Speier's legislation. But AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, says he backs a review by the House administration committee.

"The speaker believes the House Administration Committee is right to review the standing procedures and resources available to staff," Strong said in a statement provided to CNN.

The House administration committee has recently launched a review of current sexual harassment training and policies, and the committee announced Friday that it will hold a hearing on the topic November 14.

"We need to make certain that the House provides the needed sexual harassment awareness training, as well as policies that support a person's rights to report when they have been victimized," Chairman Gregg Harper said in a statement Friday.