Weekly Democratic Address
December 1, 2017
Hello, I’m Jackie Speier, Congresswoman from the 14th Congressional District in California.
We are at a moment of reckoning. For too long, in too many workplaces, men and women have been propositioned, grabbed, licked, kissed, and groped. They have seen their careers crumble into dust through no fault of their own. They have been driven out of the industries – journalism, entertainment, and yes, Congress – in which they had worked for years to excel.
Now, at last, we are reckoning with this predatory plague that has spread throughout this institution, including the very Floor of the House of Representatives.
Now, survivors are stepping forward to say “Me Too.” They are saying that they will no longer be silenced by powerful men, by high-priced lawyers, and by restrictive non-disclosure agreements.
And now, at last, the reckoning has come to Congress. It is undeniably clear that misguided attempts to protect this institution have instead harmed it, and have left the shattered lives of too many victims in its wake.
Make no mistake: This institution is special. But we as Members of this body are not. It is a privilege to serve the American public in an elected capacity, from city councils and school boards, to the Commander-in-Chief.
And that is why we cannot let this moment of reckoning pass us by. The outcry for accountability that we are hearing from all corners of the country must be heeded. We are seeing titans of entertainment, news, and every other business be swiftly terminated, yet here in Congress, we hide behind a structure that shields us from true accountability.
Serving as a Member of Congress is a privilege, not a right, and anyone who has abused their power in this manner deserves to lose it. That is justice.
I am proud today that the ME TOO Congress Act, the bipartisan, bicameral bill with nearly 100 Democrat and Republican sponsors, heeds the outcry from the American people to bring transparency and accountability to Congress. It will overhaul the current process to empower victims and bring accountability to perpetrators and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for settlements by Members of Congress.
We cannot fail in our duty to do what is right. The American people do not want us to hide behind opaque decisions by the House Administration or Ethics Committees. They do not want to pay for an inability to keep our hands to ourselves. They want accountability and transparency, and they want it now.
Every individual is entitled to a workplace safe from harassment and abuse.
Together, we can and will meet this challenge.
We can and will be the leaders that the American people deserve, and that the entire world looks to for inspiration.
We can and will do what is right.