Sen. Joni Ernst joins Democrat Gillibrand on bill aimed at curbing sexual harassment in Congress

Sen. Joni Ernst speaks during a press availability with then Georgia Senator David Perdue and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley at Alliant Tower in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Sen. Joni Ernst speaks during a press availability with then Georgia Senator David Perdue and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley at Alliant Tower in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is among the Republicans joining Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, in sponsoring a bill aimed at curbing sexual harassment in Congress.

Eight Republicans joined a dozen Democrats in unveiling the bill, called the Congressional Harassment Reform Act.

The bill would eliminate forced mediation, extend protection to interns and fellows, force members to pay for sex harassment claims if they’re found personally liable of sexual harassment and require any settlements to be publicly disclosed unless a victim wants to keep them private.

In a statement, Ernst said there should be no tolerance for sexual harassment.

“This bipartisan legislation,” she said, “takes the necessary steps to provide victims with greater protections and choice, holds members of Congress liable for their wrongdoings and protects taxpayer dollars.”

President Donald Trump earlier this week tweeted that Gillibrand is a “lightweight” and “total flunky” for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and that she’d “come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago” and “would do anything for them.”

Many criticized Trump for the tweet, calling it sexist and sexually suggestive.

Gillibrand, who has called for the president to resign in light of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him, termed his attack a “sexist smear” and tweeted that Trump “cannot silence me.”

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