September 19, 2021

InItDeep

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Biden signs executive orders on combating sexual harassment, coinciding with Cuomo scandal

President Biden is taking action with the aim of advancing gender equality and combating sexual harassment, while a prominent member of his party, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, finds himself at the center of a growing harassment scandal.

On Monday, Biden is expected to sign two executive orders geared toward gender equality. One will create a new Gender Policy Council that will be part of the Executive Office of the President.

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According to administration officials, one of the key priorities of the new council will be to combat “systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment.”

Under Biden’s new executive order, the council’s co-chairs will have to provide the president with a strategy that will “address gender in policies, programs and budgets.” They will also have to submit annual reports “to measure progress on implementing the strategy.”

The council will focus not just on domestic policy but foreign policy as well, although it is unclear what impact they might have on American dealings in other parts of the world.

Biden’s second executive order of the day mandates the Department of Education “to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies” to make sure they are consistent with the administration’s position “that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence.”

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While the president is taking a proactive approach to gender equality through the establishment of this council, he has yet to publicly comment on the allegations against Gov. Cuomo. Reports over the weekend featured allegations from two former staff members who claimed that his actions made them uncomfortable. This makes five women who have accused Cuomo of acting inappropriately, four of them being former government employees who worked for him at the time.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question from Fox News about Cuomo’s situation last Tuesday, after the third woman, Anna Ruch, came forward. Psaki did not weigh in on the allegations themselves, but said that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “both believe that every woman coming forward should be heard, should be treated with dignity and treated with respect.”

Fox News asked the White House if they have any comment on the latest allegations but they did not immediately respond.

Cuomo is currently facing pressure to resign from fellow Democrats in his own state. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement Sunday that the allegations are “drawing away from the business of government” and that “[f]or the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”

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According to a tally from Fox News, a total of 37 lawmakers from either the Assembly or state Senate have called on him to resign, with 10 calling for impeachment.

Cuomo apologized for his past behavior following allegations from former aide Charlotte Bennett, who accused him of asking her personal questions and implying that he wanted a sexual relationship with her. The governor denied that he intended to say anything offensive but said he was “embarrassed” nonetheless. He or his office have more strongly denied allegations from others.

Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

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