Bill would require tax dollars for settlements be paid back

After first introducing a bill to address sexual harassment among federal lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, now is taking that fight a step further.

His newest piece of legislation would require repayment of taxpayers dollars used in sexual harassment settlements by members of Congress.

“Congressmen and senators should not be allowed to play by a different set of rules and held to a different set of standards than the American public. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable by anyone, and taxpayers should not be on the hook for the actions of others,” he said.

Last week, Marino introduced legislation to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay settlements involving federal lawmakers. In addition, it would require the House Ethics Committee to consider expelling those who commit such acts.

He vowed to bring forth a companion bill to require repayment of tax dollars and to disclose the names of those who perpetuate such acts.

“My legislation will bring transparency and accountability to the secretive process used when a victim settles a sexual harassment claim against a member of Congress. By listing publicly past and future settlements, along with the identity of the member of Congress who committed the act of sexual harassment, the American people can see and judge for themselves.”

The bill also will protect identities of victims and releases them from nondisclosure agreements signed along with settlements, thereby making it easier for them to come forward.

Both pieces of legislation, he said, will bring “much-needed transparency and taxpayer accountability to a broken process.”