Senator Lisa Murkowski today expressed appreciation that language and provisions from a bill she co-sponsored to prevent military sexual assaults and protect victims has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) considered in the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
Key provisions from within bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Murkowski -- the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) -- was included in the Senate's Defense bill to provide victims of sexual assault in all military branches access to a Special Victims' Counsel (SVC), a trained military lawyer to assist the victim throughout the legal process.
"This Congress I've supported five different legislative fixes to address the complex issues of sexual assault and trauma in our military from multiple angles, including a measure to extend the good practices used by the U.S. Army across all military branches," said Senator Murkowski. "I believe the provisions included in this year's NDAA are an important first step in a long process of bringing an end to this problem and I thank the members of the Armed Services Committee for including them -- though I must be honest in saying I wish they had added more protective measures to the bill. I will continue to be fully involved as Congress and our military leaders work to correct these problems."
The Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013 legislation would:
Provide victims of sexual assault with Special Victims' Counsel (SVC) -- a military lawyer who will assist sexual assault victims throughout the process.
Enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD's Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office so that it can better oversee efforts to combat MSA across the Armed Forces and regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rate, number of cases brought to trial, and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations within each of the individual services.
Refer cases to the general court martial level when sexual assault charges are filed or to the next superior competent authority when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
Bar sexual contact between instructors and trainees during and within 30 days of completion of basic training or its equivalent.