WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are facing mounting pressure to end Capitol Hill’s culture of secrecy over sexual harassment as they return from a holiday break, with members of both parties calling for Congress to overhaul its handling of misconduct claims and to unmask lawmakers who have paid settlements using taxpayer money.
On Sunday, the roiling debate over sexual harassment cost one lawmaker who has paid such a settlement — Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan — his post as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, at least temporarily. Mr. Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, announced that he was stepping aside as the House Ethics Committee investigates allegations that he sexually harassed aides.
And on the other side of the Capitol, Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who has been accused of groping several women, told a home state newspaper that he would return to work on Monday feeling “embarrassed and ashamed.”
Representative John Conyers Jr., who paid a secret settlement with taxpayer money, stepped aside from his post as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.