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The sense that McConnell is inclined to let this issue fade away makes reformers all the grumpier. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is particularly fired-up about the jam-up, as are fellow Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Patty Murray. (Klobuchar’s team led negotiations for her party during the omnibus horse-trading and remains neck-deep in ongoing talks.) But this is not a typical red vs. blue situation. Post-omnibus, the Democratic trio of women drew up a letter to leadership urging renewed action. Every female senator from both sides of the aisle quickly signed on.

The bipartisan letter grabbed headlines and elicited scads of positive feedback, reformers say. Unfortunately, none of it was from the one man who matters: McConnell. “Republican leadership just kind of shrugged its shoulders,” a Democratic staffer said. “We were disappointed by the lack of response from McConnell. It wasn’t a big blow up. He just didn’t really acknowledge the letter. We didn’t get any kind of official response.”

What can reformers do to get things back on track? No one knows—though multiple aides report that their bosses are wracking their brains for ways to keep the issue alive.

Case in point: Last week, during hearings for a nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Murray used her opening statement to talk about workplace harassment in general, in the process taking a direct swing at McConnell’s foot-dragging with respect to Congress. The money quote:

Now I’m proud that the female senators on both sides of the aisle are taking this issue seriously. There have been a number of steps taken, and bills introduced, to combat and prevent sexual harassment, both here in Congress, and in workplaces across the country. However, it’s been really unfortunate to see a lack of urgency or action from Republican leaders here in Congress. Leader McConnell has yet to allow a vote on legislation to reform how sexual harassment claims are handled here in Congress.

More tenuously, there has been talk of Senate men (at least on the Democratic side) putting together a letter to leadership expressing support for the women’s letter. This is, the men of the Senate are well aware, not simply a Women’s Issue. But that idea hasn’t quite gelled yet (at least not enough for anyone to discuss publicly).

And so goes the quest to keep the heat on. “We’re not going to stop talking about this,” the Democratic aide asserted. “When it wasn’t in the omnibus, did people not expect us to say anything? Did they think people were going to let this die?”

The fact that the House has done its part just makes this all the more embarrassing, noted the aide. “They’re usually the more difficult chamber.”

Maybe. But as House members know better than anyone, many a legislative crusade has died on McConnell’s doorstep. So unless reformers can figure out a way to get the iron-fisted majority leader to say “MeToo,” Congress may very well miss its reform moment.

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Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/sexual-harassment-bill-senate/558176/

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