Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of House Resolution for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor on the House of Representatives in support H.Res. 630 requiring each Member, officer, and employee of the House of Representatives to complete sexual harassment training.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. [Robert] Brady, thank you for your leadership.  Thank you Mr. Chairman [Gregg] Harper for yours as well.  Thank you for bringing this legislation to the Floor.

Here it is.  November 29, 2017, an historic day in the history of the Congress.  A watershed moment in our Congress’ history because it is a day in which we will take the opportunity to make change.

This body is taking a constructive first step to protect all members of our legislative community from harassment and discrimination in the workplace.  This vote is vital to upholding the integrity of the U.S. Congress.

We’re grateful for the tremendous leadership of Congresswoman Jackie Speier. I have observed her leadership on this subject for a very long tremendous leadership of time.  She has a lifetime commitment to exposing and ending the scourge of sexual harassment.  I thank her for that leadership.

I want to also acknowledge my own daughter, Christine Pelosi, the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party.  She was a former prosecutor in San Francisco, prosecuted these cases and has been a strong, strong advocate for protecting people in the workplace.  And has had some level of success with that.

So here we are at this watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment and discrimination.  Brave women in every corner of the country and every industry are making their voices heard.  As Members of Congress, we have a moral duty to show real effective leadership to foster a climate of respect and dignity in the workplace with absolutely zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, or abuse.  Anything less is unacceptable, my colleagues.

Requiring the Members and staff to take training, while valuable, and we must have it, must be only a first step – and we must make sure that that training is very effective as well.

But the next step for Congress to take is to pass the Me Too Congress Act, introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, to create greater transparency and accountability in the broken reporting and settlement system.

Taxpayer money should not have been spent to build a culture of silence and complicity around workplace harassment.  We must make a judgment about how that was used.  This bill, the Me Too Congress Act, will reform the policy that has persisted.  It will ensure that survivors who wish to share their stories publicly can come forward and they can come forward to the ethics committee.

We want to create a culture that says to everyone who comes to work here, ‘This will be hospitable for you.’  We want it to be a culture that is a model to the nation.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, this moment is a moment of truth for the Congress.  It is disappointing and disturbing that some in the Capitol have not served with the dignity and respect required of this office.

It is very hard to accept that people we admire in public life and here in Congress have crossed the line and broken the public trust and violated the dignity and respect of those who have worked for or with them.  But zero tolerance means consequences for everyone. No matter your contribution to our country, you do you not get a pass to harass or discriminate.  No matter how great the legacy, it is not a license to harass or abuse.

To the victims of harassment and abuse, we hear you, we believe you, we are here for you.

Where there is harassment, women and men must have support to come forward.  We have a duty, again, to address their concerns and provide them needed resources.  We don’t want to lose the leadership or service of any patriot who comes to work in or around the Congress.  We can’t let harassment or discrimination destroy their safety or drive them out of public office.  We cannot tell young women or men who aspire to serve in this historic body that they must put up with harassment and abuse.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to just close by, again, thanking Congresswoman Jackie Speier for her leadership.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Brady, all who are concerned with it.  It is utterly unconscionable that courageous survivors who seek to end the nightmare of sexual harassment are also dealt the injustice of having their voices silent.  During this watershed moment, we must seize the moment and take real lasting action.  The eyes of the country are on us.  We cannot fail them or any prospective victims.

With that, I thank all of those who have brought this to the Floor.  Congresswoman [Barbara] Comstock, Mr. [Gregg] Harper, Mr. [Robert] Brady, Congresswoman [Jackie] Speier.  I urge a strong unanimous vote on this resolution.  I yield back the balance of my time.

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