WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Pete Olson (R-TX) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) have introduced legislation to ensure victims of harassment on Capitol Hill continue to receive just compensation for their suffering, but at the hands of their accusers, not at taxpayer expense. Olson and Stefanik introduced H.R. 4690, the Responsible Settlements for Victims and Taxpayers Act, which will require Members found guilty of harassment to reimbursement the Treasury for settlements paid out to victims. Furthermore, if a Member leaves office and fails to reimburse the Treasury, their federal retirement account, also known as a Thrift Savings Account, can be taken to pay back the American people.
Rep. Pete Olson said, “Recent reports of harassment coming out of Capitol Hill are disgusting and wrong on every level. The notion that any claims of harassment have been settled at taxpayer expense is simply indefensible. As we look to right this wrong, I have concerns with any colleagues seeking the easy way out by resigning and thinking this action gets them off the hook. That’s why not only does this bill require members to reimburse the Treasury for payments to victims, but also provides a mechanism for reimbursement should anyone leave office. The wonderful staffers who come to Capitol Hill to serve the American people deserve a safe work environment. If that safety is breached, they deserve compensation from the person who harms them, not the American taxpayers. I thank my colleague Elise Stefanik for joining me in this effort and hope we can get this bill to the House floor for consideration as soon as possible.”
"Taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for lawmakers' inappropriate behavior," said Congresswoman Stefanik. "This commonsense legislation addresses the recent and shocking reports of abuse by some on Capitol Hill, and it protects hard earned taxpayer dollars. I was pleased to join my colleagues recently to pass mandatory sexual harassment training for the House of Representatives, and this bill is one more important step to protecting our workspaces from abuse. I thank Congressman Olson for leading this effort."
Highlights of the Bill:
H.R. 4690 amends the Congressional Accountability Act to require Members of Congress to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for settlements paid in connection with violations of sexual harassment committed personally by Members of Congress. The bill also allows use of Thrift Savings Plan agency contributions to a Member as a source of reimbursement if a Member or Senator has not met the requirements of repayment within 180 days of the settlement agreement. Text of the bill can be found here.