April 18, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Pressure Building to Address Military Sexual Assault in Defense Bill

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
McKeon seemed willing Thursday to address the issue of sexual assault in the defense bill.

Other legislative proposals include a bill (S 548) from Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that would require the secretary of Defense to retain restricted reports of sexual assault for at least 50 years. The bill also would establish preferred policy regarding the disposition of sexual assault cases through courts martial and prohibit anyone previously convicted of sexual assault from serving in the military.

Like many lawmakers this week, McKeon expressed frustration with the Defense Department’s inability to reverse this trend.

“Legislation can only do so much. We can go a long way toward holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring victims receive justice, but those steps all happen after an assault has taken place,” McKeon said. “Commanders must take responsibility for the culture and climate of their units, a climate that appears, at a minimum, not to take this problem seriously.”

During the Thursday meeting, lawmakers and White House officials discussed issues that “went beyond a legislative remedy,” including the need for culture changes and the fact that the vast majority of victims are reticent to report these crimes, Turner said.

Frank Oliveri contributed to this report.

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