Senate effort to pass sexual harassment overhaul gets new push

After months of inaction and stalled momentum, Senate negotiators are breathing new life into the effort to pass sexu...

Posted: May 9, 2018 8:42 AM
Updated: May 9, 2018 8:42 AM

After months of inaction and stalled momentum, Senate negotiators are breathing new life into the effort to pass sexual harassment legislation to overhaul the once-secretive system through which sexual harassment and misconduct complaints are handled on Capitol Hill.

Three congressional sources with knowledge of the negotiations tell CNN that conversations have been picking up behind the scenes and are slowly moving in the right direction towards negotiating final legislative language that could pass the Senate.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, are in negotiations looking for a compromise right now and it's progressing, albeit slowly. A Democratic source with knowledge of the negotiations says there's reason for optimism that something is going to get done soon. But key in the days ahead will be whether that optimism will be met by McConnell, who has yet to signal his stance on the ongoing negotiations. McConnell controls the Senate floor schedule, dictating what legislation will ultimately be taken up by the upper chamber.

McConnell spokesman David Popp would not read out the current negotiations, other than to characterize them as still "ongoing."

"We mean business and so we're continuing to push to get this done and I believe we will get it done," Klobuchar, a Democrat, told CNN late last month.

The legislation would reform the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up the process for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill and would hold lawmakers personally liable for paying settlements.

Murray told CNN on Tuesday there are several provisions that the group, led by Klobuchar, is still trying to work the language out on -- but expressed confidence that they'd be able to get agreement.

"I think we are so close. And it's a matter of words at this time and getting Mitch McConnell to agree to it."

The senator says the hope would be that McConnell would "hotline" the bill -- a strategy used by leadership when they want to move legislation quickly.

"The leadership is keeping their process on this close," Murray said, "I would think this is something you could get hotlined fairly quickly."

The House of Representatives passed their version of the legislation in February. But over the last three months, similar efforts to pass it in the Senate have hit road blocks and the pressure to pass something urgently seemed to have run out of steam.

The legislation was left out of the spending bill that Congress passed in March -- widely seen among lawmakers as the best possible vehicle to attach it to -- over disagreements about specific provisions.

A Democratic Senate aide told CNN much of the dispute centers around the personal liability aspect of the legislation, which would hold lawmakers personally responsible for paying any sexual harassment settlements themselves, rather than allowing them to use taxpayer's money out of a little-known account in the US Treasury. Another Democratic Senate aide tells CNN that negotiators are now focusing in on changes that would address those concerns over settlement-specific provisions of the legislation.

RELATED: Speier tells Ryan to demand Farenthold pay back settlement in harassment case

Senators working on the issue have tried over the last three months to keep the spotlight focused on issue, even while legislative negotiations had all but puttered out.

In March, all 22 female Senators, from both parties, wrote a letter to Senate leadership expressing their "deep disappointment" in the Senate's inaction, calling on McConnell to bring legislation to the Senate floor. In April, 31 Democratic male senators and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz followed up with a similar letter of their own demanding action.

"It has been 90 days since the House unanimously passed a bill to address sexual harassment in Congress. The Senate still hasn't taken action," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, tweeted Monday.

The legislation was born in the wake of the #MeToo movement last fall and after the outcry over the culture in congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108902

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287491467
Cuyahoga1158082211
Hamilton814091250
Montgomery525571043
Summit484351001
Lucas43359820
Butler39018606
Stark33338929
Lorain25675505
Warren24595303
Mahoning22376603
Lake21211388
Clermont20124253
Delaware18856136
Licking16663222
Fairfield16576204
Trumbull16551482
Medina15612271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11607211
Miami10849225
Wayne9146223
Columbiana9034230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8650250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7161179
Hancock6999132
Ross6945161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584649
Lawrence5732102
Jefferson5679158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5320109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444366
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4040110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275365
Henry273467
Holmes2702101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: °
Huntington
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Calm and cool conditions are expected across the Midwest through the middle of the work week.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events