For Immediate Release
May 21, 2014
DC – Bill Silverfarb (202) 225-3531 / (202) 957-4340 cell
CA – Katrina Rill (650) 342-0300 / (650) 208-7441 cell
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement after the House Rules Committee failed to approve the addition of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2015 that would have reformed how the military prosecutes sexual assault cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Currently, the authority to prosecute such cases rests solely with the chain of command.
“I am disappointed the amendment will not have the opportunity to be voted on by the full House. Most Americans and more than 200 members of Congress favor taking the prosecution of sexual assault and rape cases out of the chain of command,” Congresswoman Speier said. “Service members should have the expectation and confidence that if they are harmed by a fellow service member they will have legal recourse that is fair. They should trust and perceive the justice system as being impartial and not fraught with conflicts of interest. The system in place right now falls well below this standard.
“The growing bipartisan support for taking sexual assault offenses out of the chain of command should be a signal to leadership that this critical reform measure deserves an up and down vote. It is time for us to stand up and have the guts to be counted. My fight for survivors and reform will continue until these cases are handled by legal experts and not by those who are oftentimes proven to be the perpetrators,” Congresswoman Speier said.
Congresswoman Speier’s amendment would have given the Chief Prosecutor of each service the discretion of whether to prosecute sexual assaults and received 28 yes votes to 34 no votes in the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday May 7. It was the first time the committee voted on whether to take the criminal cases out of the chain of command and received bipartisan support. The House of Representatives will vote on the NDAA Thursday, May 22.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier is proud to represent California’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. She is a senior member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). In her role on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Congresswoman is a ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements and serves on the Subcommittee on National Security. She serves on the Readiness Subcommittee and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on HASC and is a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Congresswoman Speier was appointed to serve as a Senior Whip for the Democratic caucus in the 113th Congress.