• October 24, 2014

House OKs $638 billion defense bill

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Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013 4:30 am

WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed a sweeping, $638 billion defense bill on Friday that imposes new punishments on members of the armed services found guilty of rape or sexual assault as outrage over the crisis in the military has galvanized Congress.

Ignoring a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted 315-108 for the legislation, which would block President Barack Obama from closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and limit his efforts to reduce nuclear weapons.

The House bill containing the provisions on sex-related crimes that the Obama administration supports as well as the detention policies that it vigorously opposes must be reconciled with a Senate version before heading to the president’s desk. The Senate measure, expected to be considered this fall, costs $13 billion less than the House bill — a budgetary difference that also will have to be resolved.

The defense policy bill authorizes money for aircraft, weapons, ships, personnel and the war in Afghanistan in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 while blocking the Pentagon from closing domestic bases.

Shocking statistics that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year and high-profile incidences at the service academies and in the ranks pushed lawmakers to tackle the growing problem of sexual assault. A single case of a commander overturning a conviction — a decision that even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel couldn’t change — drove Congress to act swiftly.

Both the House and Senate were determined to shake up the military’s culture in ways that would ensure victims that if they reported crimes, their allegations wouldn’t be discounted or their careers jeopardized.

“This is a self-inflicted wound that has no place in the military,” Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both legs and partial use of an arm in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Iraq, told her colleagues in the final moments of debate on Friday.

The House bill would require a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a member of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court.

Officers, commissioned warrant officers, cadets and midshipmen convicted of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or attempts to commit those offenses also would be dismissed. Enlisted personnel and noncommissioned warrant officers convicted of similar crimes would be dishonorably discharged.

The bill also would strip military commanders of the power to overturn convictions in rape and sexual assault cases.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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2 comments:

  • 11B38 posted at 7:41 am on Thu, Jul 18, 2013.

    11B38 Posts: 7

    I think this all depends on the level of adjudication. I am close to retirement, and in my time I have seen different punishment for all types of infractions, or even crimes. One in my unit now involving and officer and an enlisted member. Same situation, both involved, and like I have seen dozens of times, the enlisted member appears to get the worse end of it. The officers career however is over, he wont be promoted again. So maybe not as disproportionate as it may seem.

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 2:36 pm on Sun, Jun 16, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 238

    "Officers, commissioned warrant officers, cadets and midshipmen convicted of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or attempts to commit those offenses also would be dismissed. Enlisted personnel and noncommissioned warrant officers convicted of similar crimes would be dishonorably discharged."

    Why are Officers, commissioned warrant officers, cadets and midshipmen exempt from being dishonorably discharged for the same crime as the enlisted personnel and noncommissioned warrant officers.

    Same crime...same punishment.

     

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