Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spoke out Wednesday against sexual harassment on Capitol Hill -- prior to a vote calling for anti-harassment training for lawmakers and staffers. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 29 (UPI) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday condemned reports of sexual harassment in Congress before a vote on possible mandatory anti-harassment training.
"Sexual harassment has no place in any workplace, let alone in the United States Congress," Ryan, R-Wis., said at a news conference. "The fact that some people walking these halls are subjected to a hostile or threatening work environment when they came here to serve their country, to serve their ideals, that's wrong. That's a disgrace."
When asked if he or other members of Congress should comment on the 16 women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, Ryan said, "Right now, we're focused on making sure this place works the right way."
The speaker's remarks came prior to a vote on a House resolution calling for mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for lawmakers and staffers. The Senate has approved a similar resolution.
In recent weeks, two sitting members of Congress, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., have been the subjects of sexual harassment allegations -- as has Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Ryan said he would not recommend, as some have, that Conyers resign. The Michigan Democrat, the longest serving member of Congress, stepped down from his post as the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
"I will leave it up to him to decide. I think he made the right decision stepping down from his leadership position," Ryan said of Conyers.
House Administration Chairman Rep. Greg Harper, R-Miss., said Congress has paid out about $17 million to settle 260 claims in the last 20 years. He added that those claims concerned sexual harassment issues, but also included claims relating to an anthrax attack at the Capitol and a series of claims in 2007 on asbestos.
Harper said his committee will hold a hearing next week on the issue of settlements.