HC Wake-Up Call: Congress Reaches Deal to Curb Sexual Harassment, Dems Strike Deal With Pelosi & Tampons Recalled After Reports of Unraveling

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Congress Reaches Deal to Curb Sexual Harassment on Capitol Hill

After witnessing several congressmen depart from Capitol Hill following sexual harassment allegations and the use of taxpayer money to cover up inappropriate behavior, Congress has finally reached a deal and is ready to pass a bill to crack down on lawmakers that sexually harass their staff.

According to The Huffington Post, House and Senate lawmakers worked out the differences between bills passed by each chamber and reached an agreement Wednesday to overhaul congressional regulations governing sexual harassment, allowing for both chambers to vote on the bill in the coming weeks, before Congress adjourns for the year.

“We have reached an agreement with the Senate on a strong package of reforms to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 that will focus on protecting victims, strengthening transparency, holding Members accountable for their personal conduct, and improving the adjudication process,” Reps. Gregg Harper (R-MS), Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) said in a statement.

“The agreement reflects the first set of comprehensive reforms that have been made to the Congressional Accountability Act since 1995,” the lawmakers said.

In the House’s bill, it was required that lawmakers pay out-of-pocket for all settlements relating to sexual harassment and discrimination, but the Senate bill still allowed for lawmakers to use taxpayer money. Congress reached a deal requiring lawmakers to be personally liable for all sexual harassment and retaliation settlements, but not for discrimination settlements, ABC News reports.

“I think it will send that message that there is zero tolerance for bad behavior,” House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) told ABC News.

The House bill originally provided legal representation to all accusers, but the Senate bill did not. According to HuffPost, the final language will allow for House staff to have access to House counsel, but Senate staff will not have that option.

In the agreement, however, harassment protections will be extended to unpaid staff, including interns and congressional fellows, and an electronic system will be implemented to process sexual harassment claims, ABC News reports.

Lastly, the House bill required for there to be an impartial probe, but the Senate bill did not. The final agreement did not include that provision.

Here are some of the other provisions from the agreement via a press release from Reps. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN):

via The Huffington Post

Speier, one of the leaders for the House bill earlier this year, said she is currently working to introduce bipartisan legislation in the next Congress to include provisions that did not make it into this final bill, according to an aide. She is also looking into whether the House could implement these provisions for itself in the next Congress.

“We believe this is a strong step towards creating a new standard in Congress that will set a positive example in our nation,” reads the statement by Speier and her fellow House lawmakers, “but there is still more work to be done.”

Nancy Pelosi Strikes Deal With Disgruntled Dems, Paving the Way for Her Speakership

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) came to an agreement with Democrats that had tried to derail her bid for Speaker of the House, all but ensuring her election to the speakership.

According to USA Today, Pelosi announced that she is “comfortable” with a proposal for term limits for leadership positions within the Democratic caucus, and in return, a critical number of fellow Democrats have announced that they will support her in the January 3rd vote.

Under the proposal, top House Democrats would only be allowed to serve four two-year terms in their posts, including any posts that they had served when the Democratic party had the majority in the House, Politico reports. That means the proposal would also apply to Pelosi’s two deputies: Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

To be nominated for a fourth term under the proposal, Pelosi would need to get a two-thirds majority vote from House Democrats.

“Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus,” Pelosi said in a statement announcing the agreement.

Following her announcement, seven of Pelosi’s critics released a joint statement supporting her for Speaker of the House.

“We wish to thank Nancy Pelosi for her willingness to work with us to reach this agreement,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders. We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress.”

According to Politico, the proposal will come up for a vote before February 15th. Even if the proposal fails, however, Pelosi said she will still abide by it, limiting her tenure to a maximum four years.

Some Kotex Tampons Recalled After Unraveling in Users’ Bodies

In the latest menstrual hygiene news, Kimberly-Clark has issued a voluntary product recall on its U by Kotex Sleek Tampons after reports that the feminine hygiene products unraveled or broke apart in users’ bodies, The Huffington Post reports.

via U by Kotex

The company issued a press release Tuesday advising retailers to pull the tampons off shelves due to a “quality-related defect.”

According to the recall announcement, Kimberly-Clark said it received “a small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms” and that some users had to seek “medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

The recall only pertains to the United States and Canada, and is specific to tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018, and distributed between October 17, 2016, and October 23, 2018, Hello Giggles reports.

Users can check to see if they have a defective box by checking the lot numbers located on the bottom of the box. A full list of those lot numbers are listed on the company’s website. Users can also search a lot number to see if a box is defective.

“The safety of our consumers is our top priority,” the company said. “We are putting systems in place to prevent the occurrence of similar issues in the future.”

What to look out for...

Celebrate the holidays right and live out your Gilmore Girls dreams by having lunch (and lots of coffee) at Lorelai and Rori Gilmore’s house from December 22nd to January 6th at Warner Brothers Studio!