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House unveils sweeping harassment overhaul after wave of scandals

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Senior House negotiators unveiled a bipartisan plan Thursday to change Capitol Hill\’s workplace harassment system – and then to force lawmakers found responsible for misconduct to pay settlements utilizing their own money.

The legislation could be the product of negotiations among House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), ranking Democrat Bob Brady (D-Pa.), and many other senior people both sides.

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Its expected passage, after the House\’s upcoming recess, would total a serious shift in the Hill\’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints from a frenetic autumn that saw five lawmakers in parties ensnared in harassment scandals.

"I will say it\’s actually a far more victim-friendly process," said Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.). "More transparency, more protections and advice and counsel for complainants, but still ensuring due process for individuals who are accused."

The bill is anticipated to wish lawmakers deemed the cause of harassment while at work to pay off the U.S. Treasury for settlements reached for the kids, a reform built to quiet last year\’s furor over the still-unknown quantity of claims resolved using public money.

The Hill\’s Office of Compliance, which adjudicates workplace harassment claims, would to liberate report twice yearly on misconduct settlements, such as the identities within the offices involved. The compliance office would not be renamed your office of Congressional Workplace Rights, with the end to the requirements that victims undergo counseling and mediation.

The compliance office\’s general counsel wouldn\’t have the capacity to subpoena witness testimony and documents while investigating harassment claims beneath the new House legislation.

The House bill would not create a workplace of Employee Advocacy to represent the interests of victims who allege harassment, together with a hotline to report claims anonymously. Employees advocate would be empowered to represent harassment victims during potential ethics committee proceedings.

Perhaps the most important component into your market is language that converts a number of its changes into immediate changes to accommodate rules. By automatically adding the new employee advocate\’s office to accommodate rules, one example is, the chamber doesn\’t need to hold back with the Senate some thing naturally harassment legislation — or President Donald Trump to sign it into law.

Among the Hill\’s most controversial recent harassment claims became a $27,000 payment that former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) created to an ex-aide who alleged sexual misconduct, using funds from his personal office\’s budget instead of the Treasury-funded account set up for misconduct settlements from the legislative branch.

That practice to hand over harassment claims from lawmakers\’ own budgets, which Administration Committee leaders of all sides say they were not aware of, because it\’s likely to be banned in the bill – information which remained being finalized late Wednesday, potentially pushing its formal release to Thursday.

Harper and Brady worked tirelessly on the legislation with Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), and Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.). Brooks and the ethics panel\’s top Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, also weighed in all over the process.

Speier lauded the bill within the interview as "ME TOO legislation on steroids, which can be thrilling with me." Her benchmark harassment legislation, introduced recently, was handed the name "ME TOO" after the nationwide movement raising understanding sexual harassment and assault.

\”It\’s an exceedingly tough bill,\” agreed Byrne, hailing the Administration Committee staff and his awesome fellow negotiators for maintaining \”a great working relationship\” over a bipartisan basis despite their ideological differences on other concerns. \”And we haven\’t had anything as being a significant disagreement.\”

The House bill is set to pass through after next week\’s recess, Byrne said. Lawmakers and aides expect it to have taken up within the so-called suspensions calendar, which can be available to broadly popular legislation that may win a two-thirds most of the chamber.

Another provision while in the forthcoming bill would prohibit sexual relationships between members and staffers, or coming from a staffer as well as any other staffer they supervise. Brooks acknowledged that that may prove controversial, given what she referred to as the many "positive relationships" among staffers that on most occasions changed into marriages. But she insisted the the years have visit draw the cloths line.

Lawmakers and aides for both sides in the Capitol had previously signaled that harassment legislation is likely to be ripe enough to improve must-pass government funding legislation. But the Senate has yet to achieve agreement itself bill, and a second leading negotiator in that chamber recently described your home as \”a tad further along.\”

Senators are \”going to wish that will put our imprint into it,\” West Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a interview a while back. A senior part of the Senate Rules Committee, Capito is making use of the panel\’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and various committee members on that chamber\’s harassment measure.

The Senate has hardly been immune on the harassment furor that engulfed the Capitol late last year, with Minnesota Democrat Al Franken expected to resign his seat after seven women came forward to allege unwanted groping or attempted kissing.

Beyond Conyers and Franken, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) also resigned his seat a few weeks ago after acknowledging improper behavior toward his staff. Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) both announced they\’d not seek reelection following multiple sexual harassment allegations that emerged against them, and both face House ethics committee probes stemming from those claims.

Adam Cancryn and Heather Caygle caused this report.

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Black caucus chairman pushes to censure Trump over ‘shithole’ remark

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Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond on Thursday introduced a solution to censure President Donald Trump over what he contends would be the president\’s racist rhetoric referring to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as \”shithole countries.\”

The resolution – who has much more than 130 co-sponsors, including House Democratic leaders – calls over the House to publicly state its support for any nations Trump disparaged, censure and condemn the president for his statements, and demand he retract his comments and apologize.

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At a news conference announcing the resolution alongside House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as well as other Democrats, Richmond (D-La.) said Trump\’s controversial comments \”should have not been made\” and \”were factually inaccurate.\”

Richmond conceded, however, the resolution isn\’t \”privileged,\” meaning House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might need to say yes to carry it in order with the chamber to keep a vote. It\’s almost certain Ryan will not likely do this.

\”If he doesn\’t, we then will be at other ways to just make a vote on there,\” Richmond told reporters. \”But the facts from the matter is definitely the speaker should bring it up. In the event that he doesn\’t, establishing is enabling and recurring to allow obama to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric, as well as at certain point – whether you agree or disagree – I believe this is the speaker\’s obligation to safeguard the dignity of the property.\”

If Ryan will not allow a vote, Richmond said he among others would hunt for "creative" strategies to force one.

Like most Republican leaders, Ryan hasn\’t said much for the president\’s reported comments, though he did acknowledge the other day that they are \”very unfortunate\” and \”unhelpful.\” For Richmond, however, that wasn\’t enough.

\”It\’s unfortunate when I miss my bus. Or it\’s unfortunate in the event the airlines lose my luggage,\” he was quoted saying. \”But when the president of america decides to Africa, Haiti and El Salvador which he used, which isn\’t unfortunate. That is wrong. That\’s disgusting. That is definitely hurtful. There are a variety of words because of it, but unfortunate\’s undertake and don\’t.\”

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Ryan's 2017 fundraising haul: $44 million

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House Speaker Paul Ryan raised more than $44 million in 2017, an off-year record to get a House leader – a financial haul Republicans hope will shore up vulnerable GOP members in what\’s shaping up to often be a tough midterm cycle for Republicans.

In a final quarter, Ryan raised $4.8 million, his political operation will announce Thursday – down from $6.7 million during the third quarter.

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The infusion of greenbacks is a follower of Republicans passed a tax reform law last December, which GOP members said would drive support among voters and donors. But also in 2018, Republicans must defend its 24-seat majority spanning a broad battlefield, while President Donald Trump\’s approval ratings stay in the bottom 40s and Democrats hold a broad bring success the generic ballot. Nearly 24 retirements, including California Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa latest research by, will force Republicans to invest more heavily to protect these open seats.

In 2017, Ryan transferred $32 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which announced a unique record-breaking off-year total with $85 million raised in the last year. Ryan also transferred $1.7 million on to GOP members, as well as hosting 49 fundraisers for members.

"This eye-popping number is usually a testament to Speaker Ryan, House Republicans, as well as the agenda them to led your strugle on in 2017," said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan, the speaker\’s fundraising committee.

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Bannon won't testify again on Russia Thursday

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Former White House adviser Steve Bannon declined House Russia investigators\’ request to go back for a second interview Thursday, telling lawmakers through his lawyer their own obtain him to go back just 2 days after his first appearance was "unreasonable."

"The Committee\’s subpoena provides require Mr. Bannon\’s appearance for that second deposition [Thursday] at 2pm. That may be plainly insufficient time for me to undertake precisely what the Committee has asked," Bannon\’s attorney William Burck wrote within a Wednesday letter to store intelligence committee leaders obtained by POLITICO.

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Instead, Burck told committee leaders that the former senior aide to President Donald Trump would return after reaching an accommodation when using the White House to make sure his testimony doesn\’t violate executive privilege.

On Tuesday, Bannon-citing instructions from your Trump administration-refused to reply Republican and Democrats\’ questions on his amount of the White House, the post-election transition team and in some cases about his conversations with the president after he was fired from his post in August. His stonewalling infuriated persons in both parties, who subpoenaed him immediately. But despite the subpoena, Bannon declined to reply to their questions.

Burck\’s letter told the committee\’s top Russia investigators, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that Bannon remains ready to answer the committee\’s questions-but after striking an understanding together with the White House while on an acceptable scope of questioning.

"There isn\’t any conceivable solution to talk to the White House Mr. Bannon\’s time using the transition and also the White House, obtain their thoughts about the knowledge he previously provide, communicate those views back to the Committee, relay the Committee\’s views time for the White House, and then negotiate or facilitate a binding agreement amongst the Committee along with the White House from the time allotted by the Committee\’s subpoena," Burck wrote.

Committee members at the moment are weighing calling hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for avoiding their questions. They\’ve noted that White House lawyers haven\’t formally invoked executive privilege-they just have suggested that Bannon\’s testimony might implicate it.

White House officials have argued that it is customary for Congress to coordinate the scope of the questions with current and former officials to stop violating privileged information.

But GOP and Democratic lawmakers have questioned this argument, suggesting they see no reasonable interpretation of executive privilege that might preclude Bannon from discussing his time over the transition team, that is before Trump was president.

Burck indicated that the committee didn\’t have use of White House and transition documents that has to be relevant precursors to the questions for Bannon and suggested lawmakers and Bannon would require time for them to produce them and review them before Bannon\’s next interview.

"There are lots of lawyers over the Committee plus the Staff, and i also could well be surprised as long as they believed it becomes anything in addition to unprofessional even unethical should be expected to depose a witness that has did not have possibility for review relevant documents," he said.

Burck also indicated a potential disconnect between committee staff and lawmakers. He revealed that he had informed the employees of the committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the White House "may not permit Mr. Bannon to discuss his in time the transition and the White House unless an accommodation was agreed between your Committee plus the White House."

"Staff raised no objection to the telltale restrictions in any of such conversations," he said. "The main objection came yesterday within the Members who appear not to have been informed by Staff about our prior conversations."

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