Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced the Prohibiting Annuities for Sexual Abusers in Congress Act to prevent a Member of Congress from collecting their taxpayer-funded retirement annuity if they are convicted of sexual abuse. The bill would add felony sexual abuse to a list of offenses including bribery, perjury, and conspiracy which are grounds for the denial of pensions for representatives and senators under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.
The bill is inspired by standards in the U.S. military which, under current law, servicemembers in who commit acts of sexual abuse while serving are subject to a Court Marshal. If convicted, they face a dishonorable discharge, which carries with it a series of penalties and loss of rights, including the loss of their military retired pay. As of now, public officials are not held to a similar punishment for the same offense.
“The Me Too Congress movement exposed the sexual harassment and discrimination that thrives in the darkness of our nation’s Capitol. We’ve made tremendous progress to hold Members accountable for their gross misdeeds, but our work is not yet finished. Members of Congress convicted of felony sexual abuse should not profit off the taxpayer’s dime with a pension, and sexual abuse should be treated the same as other misconduct that denies a pension such as bribery or perjury. This change will also ensure that Members of Congress are held to the same standard as our servicemembers, who risk losing retired pay if convicted of sexual abuse,” said Rep. Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.
“As a soldier I learned that leadership starts with the example you set. I have long believed that members of Congress must be held to the same standard as our men and women in uniform. However current law gives a pass to those in Congress. Sexual abuse is a crime and we must ensure it is treated like one and hold those in power accountable for their actions,” said Congressman Crow.
“Members of Congress who abuse their power need to be held accountable,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “This important, bipartisan bill would ensure that if a Member of Congress is convicted for sexual misconduct, the service of that Member does not garner them a taxpayer-funded pension. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to ensure we treat sexual misconduct crimes the same way that we treat other offenses like bribery, conspiracy, and other prohibited actions.”
By amending the Honest Leadership and Open Government to include felony sexual abuse as an offense, this would:
- Ensure that convicted Members’ time served as a representative or senator does not count toward their federal pension calculation;
- Treat sexual abuse like other abuses of congressional power while serving, like bribery, conspiracy, intimidation, fraud, witness tampering, money laundering, insider trading, or other felony offenses;
- Apply to both the pre-1987 Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and FERS.