House passes sexual harassment resolution, a move hailed by WNY's Reed

Nov 29, 2017

Congressman Tom Reed was among those praising passage of a resolution requiring members of the House and their employees undergo sexual harassment training. For the Southern Tier Republican, the issue of sexual misconduct has hit his family close.

Reed revealed on the House floor in 2014, during remarks in support of the sexual abuse campaign No More, that his niece, then 18 years old, had been raped within the previous year. He continues to advocate for sexual abuse awareness and expressed support for the House resolution even before Wednesday's vote.

Congressman Tom Reed, even before Wednesday's House vote, called passage of mandatory sexual harassment training appropriate.
Credit WBFO file photo

"I think it's only appropriate that we adopt this legislation in the House to make sure that workplace rights and responsibilities are understood and that there's training requirements for all of us as members, as well as staff, to know that sexual harassment in the workplace is just unacceptable," Reed said. 

During discussion Wednesday, some House members admitted witnessing acts of sexual harassment by colleagues while others revealed past incidents in which they were the victims. 

Ann McLane Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat, revealed she was sexually assaulted by a guest of the House nearly four decades ago, while she was a 23-year-old staff member.

"Neither I nor anyone in my office had received any type of sexual harassment training," she said. "I had no place to turn. I had no one to tell and I could do nothing about it. But today is a historic day. This is a watershed moment. Times have changed."

But others say Wednesday's unanimous vote is just a start, although a good one. House Speaker Paul Ryan, prior to the vote, said they take sexual harassment seriously but need to have a comprehensive review of all things so they can have a comprehensive response.

Reed stated that his office has had sexual harassment awareness measures in place since he first took office.

"This is something we have had in our employee handbook in our own office for quite some time, since we started here on the Hill," he said. "We have undergone in this office training of our staff as well as myself in regards to sexual harassment."

The Senate passed a similar resolution earlier in the month.

The vote comes amid numerous sexual misconduct scandals in Washington, Hollywood and the national media. On Wednesday it was revealed two prominent members of the national media, longtime NBC personality Matt Lauer and legendary Minnesota Public Radio host and writer Garrison Keillor, were dismissed by their respective employers. 

Capitol Hill has seen its own share of sexual misconduct scandals, with Congressman John Conyers and Senator Al Franken under fire for past behavior. And, President Donald Trump's critics are quick to his recorded remarks in 2005, admitting to sexually aggressive behavior, bragging how he could do anything, including grabbing them by their genitalia.