The bill would take the military commanders out of control when it comes to deciding whether or not to prosecute sexual assault cases.
WASHINGTON, DC, USA – Following an independent investigation into sexual assault and sexual harassment errors at Fort Hood, a group of U.S. Senators show their bipartisan support and urge all members of Congress to pass a law reforming the Adopt military justice.
On Thursday, Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst joined Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, Richard Blumenthal and Mark Kelly in introducing laws that put military commanders out of control when it comes to deciding whether or not to commit sexual assault other cases are intended to be prosecuted or not serious crimes.
“This legislation is not partisan and not political,” said Gillibrand, who first introduced the Military Justice Improvement Act in 2013. Along with the other lawmakers, she said the prosecution decision would instead go to independent military prosecutors.
Gillibrand campaigned for this bill for almost a decade. However, she believes lawmakers like Ernst will finally endorse it following the recent findings of the Fort Hood culture according to Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s death.
“We have discussed it every year and with the incident at Fort Hood that we saw before and the report that came out of it, it just showed such a terrible climate of command that ups and downs the entire chain of command,” Ernst said during a press conference Thursday.
Guillen was killed in a weapons room at Spc’s post on April 22, 2020. Aaron Robinson, according to a criminal complaint. Her remains were not found until June 30 in an area near the Leon River in Bell County.
Her family says Guillen complained about sexual harassment before she died but did not report her as a commander for fear of retaliation.
Her death gained national attention and led to the creation of the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, which would allow victims of sexual harassment and assault to report him outside the chain of command.
The bill stalled last year and is being reintroduced by Rep. Jackie Speier. It was postponed until May when a commission appointed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was due to publish its report on sexual assault in the military.
“If someone is thinking about committing an intimate crime like sexual assault or domestic violence … and they know that there is a bad climate of command, their commander may not deal with the situation, they will likely become that perpetrator,” Ernst said on the Military Justice Improvement Act. “And so we’re trying to change this command and this environment by taking this decision out of the hands of the commander.”
“Because there is no progress, real progress and so many indicators that are going in the wrong direction, and this latest Fort Hood report, it is just unbearable,” said Gillibrand. “It is our job to oversee the accountability of the armed forces. While they may want to let the commanders decide because they trust them on so many things that are understandable and true, this is our job now because there is a need to something to accomplish.” a better and more professional system where justice is possible. “
During the press conference, Cruz said he was confident that passing the law will help encourage survivors to report sexual assault as well.
“I believe that passing this bill will increase reporting rates, increase deterrence and significantly reduce the rate of sexual assault in the military, and I hope it will decrease significantly,” he said.
Watch the full press conference on Thursday: