Barbara Comstock

Want to Know Who Else Has Been Accused of Sexual Harassment in Congress? Good Luck
Congressional offices can’t release basic details of complaints — even to lawmakers

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock says Congress must “fundamentally change” how sexual harassment complaints are handled. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The details of sexual harassment complaints against members of Congress and their staffs are secret and cannot be released to lawmakers seeking to determine the extent of the problem on Capitol Hill, a congressional official testified Thursday. 

“The law doesn’t allow us to release anything,” said Susan Tsui Grundmann, the executive director of the Office of Compliance, which oversees the response to sexual harassment complaints in Congress. She told a hearing of the House Administrative Committee that if lawmakers want to know more — including the number of complaints filed and the names of the accused — they will have to change the law. 

Picture This: A ‘Perfecto’ Final Tax Bill
As House, Senate negotiate, president raises expectations

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks with reporters about the GOP tax bill between votes in the Capitol on Nov. 30. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House and Senate are not even in formal conference negotiations on a tax overhaul measure yet, but the expectation from the White House is clear: It’s got to be “perfecto.”

On a day of increasing uncertainty over how to fund the government past Dec. 8, President Donald Trump hosted a small group of Senate Republicans at the White House and placed his marker. 

Limiting Sexual Harassment Payouts ‘Complicated,’ Lawmakers Say
Funding limitation could be one response to sexual misconduct scandals roiling Capitol Hill

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said using the appropriations process to restrict settlement payouts was complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated, 4:05 p.m. | Lawmakers have been quick to express their disgust with sexual harassment payments that come out of federal coffers to cover the cost of elected officials’ behavior. But members are more guarded when asked whether they would take action by attaching a funding limitation to a spending bill — a common instrument used by lawmakers in appropriations.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a top Republican appropriator, sounded cautious after last week’s revelation that the Office of Compliance has doled out tens of thousands of dollars since 2013.

Following Senate, House Mandates Sexual Harassment Training
Bipartisan measure comes after allegations against Conyers, Franken

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., and Vice Chairwoman Linda T. Sanchez, D-Calif., conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center after a conference meeting Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Wednesday adopted by voice vote a resolution that would require all House employees — including all members — to be trained annually on workplace harassment and discrimination.

The bipartisan measure comes on the heels of allegations against Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the longest serving member in Congress, and Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. As those cases work through the congressional ethics process, there’s a renewed focus on how sexual harassment can be reported on Capitol Hill.

Virginia Democrats Wrestle Over Nomination Process
10th District is holding primary, 5th isn’t, 7th and 2nd have yet to decide

Democrats have opted for a primary in Virginia’s 10th District, but the party committee in the 7th and 2nd districts have yet to decide how they’ll select their nominees. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the most competitive of Virginia’s congressional districts, Democrats have decided to hold a primary to nominate a candidate to take on two-term Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock.

But that wasn’t a given — and it’s still not in another contested district in the state.

DeGette Says Former Rep. Bob Filner Groped and Tried to Kiss Her
Colorado congresswoman is first to publicly identify attacker in string of recent sexual assault allegations

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said Monday former Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., tried to kiss her in a Capitol Hill elevator when they were both in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Diana DeGette said Monday former California Rep. Bob Filner tried to sexually assault her in an elevator on the Hill “some years ago.”

The Colorado Democrat’s revelation marks the first time in a string of recent allegations from current lawmakers who say they were sexually harassed by members of Congress that the victim has publicly named the accused.

DCCC Launches Digital Ads Over GOP Tax Vote
Seven Republicans who voted against the tax plan are also targeted

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock speaks with reporters as she leaves the Capitol after voting for the GOP’s tax plan Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seizing on the House’s passage of the Republican tax plan Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching digital ads in more than 40 GOP-held districts, including against Republicans who voted against the plan.

The ads, provided first to Roll Call, will run on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The committee is also rolling out a website, TaxCutsandJobsAct.com, that allows voters to submit their own video testimonials about the tax plan. The site will be promoted in Google search ads.

Photos of the Week: Taxes Dominate, Bible Museum Opens and Trump Visits
The week of Nov. 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor sits on the House steps to shoot a selfie video about his vote on the tax overhaul Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Taxes once again dominated action on the Hill, with the Senate Finance Committee marking up its plan while the House passed its version of a tax overhaul by a 227-205 vote Thursday. 

Speier and Gillibrand Introduce Harassment Transparency Legislation
Bill would disclose involved offices and make members pay for settlements

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, right, and California Rep. Jackie Speier hold a news conference Wednesday to introduce legislation aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment for Capitol Hill staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined Rep. Jackie Speier to introduce new legislation that takes aim at sexual harassment in Congress.

“For all intents and purposes, a staffer in the Capitol is powerless and gagged,” Speier, a California Democrat, said Wednesday at the beginning of a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center. Harassers are often allowed to walk away to prey on others, she said.

Anti-Harassment Training Mandated for House Members, Staffs
Paul Ryan makes announcement after two lawmakers recount incidents of sexual harassment

Speaker Paul D. Ryan says the House will adopt a policy of mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staffs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House members and their staffs will now be required to take mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, on the same day that Reps. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, and Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican, recounted at a House Administration Committee hearing incidents of sexual harassment involving lawmakers.