Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today joined Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) to call for a vote and debate on the Military Justice Improvement Act. Yesterday, it was announced their bipartisan legislation to address the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military would not be considered on the House floor. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the same legislation in the U.S. Senate.
"Victims of sexual assault deserve to have their voices heard and they deserve to have a vote on the House floor, and they deserve to have a vote in the Senate," Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said. "When push came to shove, these serious proposals -- the one that Representative Benishek and I have cosponsored -- have been ignored and, at best, watered down.
"At a very personal level, it is incredibly disappointing that there are those who are willingly dishonoring the sacrifice of so many, dishonoring the uniform that I am proud to wear, by these violent assaults they commit. I understand firsthand the importance of command authority, of making sure that this command authority is not eroded in any way. It's important to point out that our legislation does nothing to take away the necessary authority that a commander needs to have to take care of his or her troops.
"We look forward to being able to continue to garner more support for this issue, to be able to raise the level of conversation, to inform people about why this is necessary, and to make sure that we are honoring our selfless heroes and our servant leaders by finding a resolution to this issue."
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard recently led the House introduction of the Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016), which is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to effort to restore the faith of the American people and military sexual assault survivors by removing decision-making from the chain of command, and empowering experienced trial counsel to determine whether to take a case to a special or general court-martial proceeding.
This change would bring the U.S. military justice system in line with that of many of our military allies, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, Norway and Israel, which all allow these crimes to be investigated and brought to trial outside the chain of command.