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The short answer is “Yes,” the long answer is “No”; you read that correctly. When elected officials sexually harass and discriminate, the burden to compensate victims is borne entirely by taxpayers. Newly enacted legislation will alleviate taxpayer burden by making lawmakers personally liable for compensatory damages in harassment cases. In the past decade alone, taxpayers paid more than $17 million in awards and settlements brought against the legislative branch under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA). Office of Compliance FY2017 Annual Report at p.16. This figure does not include awards and settlements paid out by Agencies under the Executive Branch of Government.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the protections afforded under the CAA were largely regarded by lawmakers as antiquated and unnecessarily arduous for victims of sexual harassment to navigate. S.3749—115th Congress (2017-2018). In an effort to create greater accountability and better resources for victims of sexual harassment, Congress passed S.3749 on Dec. 13, 2018. The legislation, which amends the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to create the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (CAA Reform Act), was signed into law on Dec. 21, 2018. The law represents a bipartisan response to the onslaught of sexual harassment allegations plaguing Congress and the resulting torrent of resignations.

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