House votes to change who pays for sexual misconduct claims

A view of the Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, ahead of the State of the Union address by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed legislation that requires lawmakers to reimburse the Treasury when settling sexual harassment claims rather than use taxpayers to foot the bill.

Sexual harassment claims involving members of Congress have prompted scrutiny of a system criticized for lacking in transparency.

The bill eliminates the requirement that congressional employees undergo counseling and mediation to pursue a claim, steps that some say discouraged aides from coming forward with a compliant.

Instead, accusers will get immediate access to an advocate, and have the option of proceeding to an investigation or filing a federal lawsuit.

The legislation also requires the semi-annual publication of statistics involving harassment settlements.

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