Rep. Jackie Speier claims the House has paid out about $15 million to settle sexual harassment claims over more than a decade and said the way the rules are set up now any lawmakers involved won't be identified.
"We do know that there's about 15 million that has been paid out by the House on the behalf of harassers in the last 10 to 15 years," the California Democrat told MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday.
She said she did not know how many members that entailed.
Speier's comments echo a statistic recently reported by the Washington Post, which, citing the congressional Office of Compliance, said the U.S. Treasury paid $15.2 million in 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations between 1997 and 2014.
Speier testified before the Committee on House Administration on Tuesday and urged Republicans to support legislation that would require all members and staffers to receive mandatory, annual training on sexual harassment in the workplace.
"I’ve been working on this issue since 2014 and believe there are three steps Congress needs to take to fix the egregious, and sometimes illegal, behavior," Speier said. "The first step is to require sexual harassment prevention and response training every year for both members and staff, just like ethics and cybersecurity training."
When asked if and how the taxpayer funds were paid out would be made public, Speier said that was unlikely to happen retroactively.
"I think you do have a right to know but, right now, under the system, you don't have a right to know," the California representative said on MSNBC. Moving forward, Speier called for more transparency.
In an email to the Washington Examiner, Speier's office said the Office of Compliance, which handles sexual harassment complaints, "does not currently provide any breakdown for the type of discrimination payments made, the amounts of individual payments, or even the offices that the complaints generate from. Her bill seeks to address that lack of transparency."
After Speier's testimony, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced that the House will require all lawmakers and staff to undergo training to help prevent sexual harassment. Training will likely require a vote of approval by the chamber.
"Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution," Ryan said.
Speier has led the charge for sexual harassment legislation for years and recently launched the #MeTooCongress campaign drawing attention to the issue on social media.