Rep. Rice: Colleagues not taking sexual harassment seriously enough

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WASHINGTON -

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-4th District) walked out of a meeting with her fellow Democrats Wednesday – saying her colleagues weren't taking allegations of sexual harassment seriously enough.

Rep. Rice said she was expecting a "robust conversation" on the issue of harassment, but the issue was only mentioned "in a passing sense" by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

"She made a point of talking about how unfair it was that Matt Lauer's colleagues were allowed to talk nicely about him in the aftermath of his firing when she said she was treated badly for doing the same thing when she defended John Conyers on 'Meet the Press,'" said Rice.

Rep. Rice said that's when she got up and walked out.

"I made it very clear once I left why I left. I don't have time for meetings that aren't real," said Rep. Rice. 

She said Pelosi did acknowledge female lawmakers who are working on sexual harassment legislation.

Rep. Rice has called on Sen. Al Franken to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct. One week ago, she became the first Democrat in the House to call on Rep. John Conyers to step down for the same reason. Conyers still has no plans to resign. 

Rice's reaction is just the latest headline in the sexual misconduct firestorm that began with Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein and has spread to others such as Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and now Matt Lauer – the longtime host of "The Today Show." All have been fired.

"It's basically telling the American people…when things happen in the private sector, these set of rules are going to apply to all of you. But when the same thing happens here in Washington, we're going to have a different set of rules – because we're special," said Rice. 

The House easily approved a bipartisan measure Wednesday requiring lawmakers and staff to take annual anti-harassment training.
 

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