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Military spending act moves forward, includes new regulations on sexual abuse

Posted: June 7, 2013 7:06 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2013 7:06 p.m.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee have voted 59-2 Thursday to give the go-ahead to a bill that dictates budget and spending guidelines for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 calls for spending of about the same level as this year, with around $552.1 billion for domestic defense and an additional $85.8 billion for overseas contingency operations.

“Despite important disagreements on key issues, our members have never failed to come to a consensus on behalf of our fighting men and women,” said committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, in a news release. “I’m proud of the work we have done here.”

The full House of Representatives is expected to consider the bill next week.

Along with determining how much money to spend on defense, the bill passed by committee Thursday contains new laws that would change the way the military handles allegations of sexual abuse among servicemen and women.

First off, the bill would strip commanders of the ability to overturn a sexual assault conviction from a court martial, according to House Armed Services Committee spokesman Claude Chafin.

The bill would also establish minimum sentencing guidelines for sexual assault offenses, Chafin said. As it stands, only two other offenses have such guidelines in the military: murder and espionage, according to Chafin.

If approved, the bill would also establish new whistleblower protections so those who report sexual assault will not be punished for doing so, Chafin said.



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