Legislation takes needed next step regarding sexual harassment cases

The drive to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay settlements for federal lawmakers in sexual harassment cases has been taken to another level.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, a Cogan Station Republican who represents much of our region, has introduced legislation that would require repayment of taxpayers dollars used in sexual harassment settlements by members of Congress.

The latest legislation follows the taxpayer fund prohibition Marino introduced two weeks ago.

Of course, it should be an embarrassment that any of this legislation is even necessary. But what’s past is, sadly, unpreventable. All that can be controlled is the nature of the problem solving for the future.

We hope, as the sexual harassment awakening continues, that there eventually is information on who authorized such a fund and who wrote the checks using taxayer money.

But the legislation introduced by Marino is grounded in some sorely needed transparency. It would list publicly past and future settlements, along with the identity of the member of Congress who committed the act of sexual harassment.

At the same time, the bill would protect identities of victims and release them from nondisclosure agreements signed along with settlements, making it easier for them to come forward.

All of this is overdue.

And the arrogance of using taxpayer funds to pay sexual harassment settlements boils our blood.

But a plan to handle such sordid situations in a more transparent, responsible way in the future may be the best way to keep them from happening in the first place.

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