WASHINGTON — Members of a House panel angry over the growing epidemic of sexual assaults in the military took a key step toward tackling the problem by passing legislation Wednesday that would strip commanding officers of their longstanding authority to unilaterally change or dismiss court-martial convictions in rape and assault cases. Lawmakers believe the revision will lead to a cultural shift and encourage victims to step forward.
The legislation, which will be folded into a broader defense policy bill the full House will consider in the coming weeks, also would impose harsher penalties on service members found guilty of sexual offenses by requiring that they be dismissed or dishonorably discharged.
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