In an unusual display of bipartisan cooperation, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill on Feb. 6 that would reform the way that Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment. Backers of the bill include California Democrat Jackie Speier and senior members of the House Administration Committee, but some have criticized the proposed rules because they make it more difficult for members of the public to learn about inappropriate behavior on Capitol Hill and place roadblocks in the way of sexual harassment victims who wish to sue their abusers.
House Speaker Paul Ryan paid no attention to these complaints in a statement that claimed the bill delivered real change. The proposed measures eliminate the need for accusers to attend counseling and mediation sessions for 30 days, and they also task the House Ethics Committee with investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. This worries some analysts because the House Ethics Committee does most of its work behind closed doors and has been reluctant to sanction lawmakers in the past.