Commentary: Stopping sexual harassment the right thing to do

By Luke Messer
Special to

Recent reports of sexual harassment by members of Congress are disgraceful.  What’s worse, we learned that taxpayer money has been used to silence these victims and prevent them from telling their stories. 

Luke Messer is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana.

Enough is enough. 

Members of Congress should not treat taxpayer dollars like a slush fund to settle sexual harassment charges and keep victims quiet. 

That’s why I filed legislation that ensures victims of sexual assault and harassment aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements. My bill would release staff members from any current non-disclosure agreements, and ban these types of agreements going forward. Victims should feel empowered to come forward and share their story if they choose to do so. 

This legislation would also prohibit members of Congress from using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims, and it would require members who used taxpayer dollars to settle a previous claim to fully reimburse the U.S. Treasury out of their own pocket. 

The House recently voted to require all House members and staff to complete mandatory anti-harassment training during each session of Congress. This is a small step in the right direction, but there is so much more to do and we have the momentum now to act. 

Congress can and should come together, empower victims of sexual harassment to share their stories, and put a stop to taxpayer-funded settlements. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Rep. Luke Messer serves as Congressman for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District.

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