Messer bill looks to stop taxpayer dollars from being used in congressional harassment settlements

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: House Republican Policy Conference Chairman Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) talks about governing during a volitile election year during a Newsmakers forum at the National Press Club February 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Citing the popularity of presidential candidates Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders, Messer said that the American people don't like the 'product' they are getting from their leaders in Washington. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) plans to introduce legislation to help protect victims of sexual assault and harassment in Congress.

Messer announced Monday that the bill would release Congressional staff from current non-disclosure agreements signed as part of a sexual assault settlement with a member of Congress, as well as prohibit similar non-disclosure agreements in the future.

Messer also says the bill will prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims with members of Congress.

“It’s not OK that taxpayer money is used to silence victims of sexual harassment,” said Messer in a press release. “If these victims want to tell their story, they should be empowered to do so.”

The Washington Post reports that the government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to settle sexual harassment claims and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.

Messer also supports the bipartisan Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, which would make sexual harassment training mandatory for all members and staff.

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