The Senate voted 84-15 Thursday to approve a revised National Defense Authorization Act headlined by measures aimed at preventing sexual assault in the military.
"This bill will help make sure our troops are taken care of and kept safe," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said in a statement. "While this bill does take some steps toward curbing the atrocious problem of sexual assault in the military, it also highlights how much more work needs to be done to protect service members who are survivors of these heinous crimes."
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION
The bill passed by the Senate would:
- Strip military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions
- Require civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case
- Require dishonorable discharge or dismissal of any individual convicted of sexual assault
- Provide victims of sexual assault with legal counsel
- Eliminate the statute of limitations for court martial in sexual assault cases
- Criminalize retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault
- Revise Article 32 proceedings to limit intrusive questioning of victims
The legislation does not include a proposal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that would allow victims of sexual assault in the military to seek prosecution of their attackers outside of the military chain of command, stripping that authority from commanders.
Anonymous surveys show an estimated 26,000 members of the military were sexually assaulted in 2012 but never reported the incident. 3,374 sexual assaults were reported to the Pentagon in 2012, up from 3,192 the previous year.
OTHER DEFENSE SPENDING HIGHLIGHTS
- $552.1 billion for the regular military budget
- $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations
- 1 percent pay raise to military personnel
- Presidential authority over the fate of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba