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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Rep. Speier proposes sexual harassment training for the House of Representatives

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A California congresswoman introduced a bill Tuesday that would require all House members to take sexual harassment training. This comes after video of a kiss between a married lawmaker and a staffer became public and a former member was released from three months of house arrest for sexual harassment.

Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of San Mateo took to the House floor Tuesday morning, saying, "This is the Congress of the United States of America. This is not a frat house."

An investigation by KPCC found that U.S. senators are required to take sexual harassment training. House members are not.

RELATED: 6 reasons why sexual harassment complaints aren't more common in DC

Speier has introduced a bill that would require sexual harassment training for all members and staffers every two years. 

A Louisiana newspaper posted a surveillance video Monday showing freshman Republican Congressman Vance McAllister kissing a woman identified as a staffer. McAllister, a father of five, ran as a conservative Christian. He issued a statement of apology and asked for forgiveness.

Surveillance video

Also this week, former Democratic Congressman Bob Filner was released from house arrest. Filner resigned as mayor of San Diego after numerous accusations of sexual harassment.

Speier pointed out the bipartisan nature of the behavior, saying, “That doesn’t make it OK.” She says she's only asking Congress to do what 60 percent of American corporations are already required to do.

Congress has only been subject to sexual harassment laws since 1995, when the public reacted to workplace rules imposed on everyone else but themselves.

California is ahead of the curve. Sacramento lawmakers take two hours of sexual harassment training every other year. A third of a state lawmaker’s ethics training is devoted to sexual harassment.

Speier's proposal could be adopted by Speaker John Boehner as part of the rules for the new session of Congress. When asked Tuesday whether GOP leadership would support mandatory sexual harassment training for all members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declined to answer. But he said, "The American people deserve all of their representatives here in Washington to hold to a very high standard of behavior and conduct."

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