Comstock - who worked on Capitol Hill as a staffer early in her career and served in the Virginia House of Delegates before being elected to represent Northern Virginia's 10th District past year - said Congress needs more training and stronger safeguards in place to ensure women don't have to give up their careers to escape sexually aggressive behavior. He opened the door in only a towel, invited the staffer inside, and proceeded to expose himself.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) also told the committee that incidents of sexual harassment and assault were likely being conducted by current House members, telling the story of an unnamed representative who allegedly showed their genitals to a female staffer. It's unclear whether either of the members is the same person mentioned by Comstock; neither Speier nor Comstock named them. Comstock said the staffer later left her job. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also encouraged House staff members to complete harassment training with the congressional Office of Compliance.
She painted a picture of sexual predation on Capitol Hill, which included "victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor".
"In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve. who have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier said. "All they ask in return is that we fix our abusive system and hold perpetrators accountable".
Two female lawmakers accused three sitting male members of Congress of sexual misconduct during a hearing on Tuesday in which they criticized the House's sexual harassment policies and called for reform.
"This member asked a staffer to bring them over some materials to their residence".
"But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"
The committee is holding a hearing Tuesday on preventing sexual harassment in the Congressional workplace, where Speier is serving as one the witnesses.
"There are a lot of tales of these guys going out and behaving very badly with younger staffers", said a former House staffer. The Senate passed a resolution last week mandating such training for members and aides. Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced legislation aimed at overhauling the current process staffers take to report sexual harassment.
Later this week, Speier will also introduce legislation to overhaul the process that victims of harassment undergo when they file complaints to the Office of Compliance, which she has called "toothless" and says is created to protect harassers and not the harassed.
The staffer subsequently quit, Comstock said.
"Many of us in Congress know what it's like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long", she said in an October video encouraging other staffers to tell their stories.