The Sexual Harassment Independent Investigations and Prosecutions (SHIIP) Act is supported by the Guillén family and numerous organizations working on behalf of survivors and their families.

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personal and Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), were joined by Representatives Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Sylvia Garica (D-TX), Tony Gonzales (R-TX), and Anthony Brown (D-MD), in introducing the Sexual Harassment Independent Investigations and Prosecutions (SHIIP) Act to remove sexual harassment from the military chain of command. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, is introducing her companion legislation today as well, which marks the two-year anniversary of the murder of Army SPC Vanessa Guillén.

“Though the pain from SPC Vanessa Guillén’s murder still reverberates among her family, friends and fellow soldiers, it also served as a bulwark that helped Congress overhaul a predatory system in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act by including my provisions to remove cases of sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, and other serious crimes from the chain of command. Also included was my provision making sexual harassment a standalone offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Shockingly, however, that offense was not included in the jurisdiction of the independent military prosecutors. Our bill fixes that massive oversight,” Chair Speier said. “SPC Guillén was sexually harassed by a superior prior to her disappearance and dismemberment. No action was taken on her complaint. Many other victims of sexual assault and violent crimes in the military have shared with me how they also suffered from sexual harassment. As long as sexual harassment courts-martial continue to be handled through the military chain of command, victim’s voices will be stifled and overwhelmed by a system stacked against them at every turn.”

“The FY22 NDAA was a step in the right direction, but the SHIIP Act carries this work over the finish line,” Rep. Mullin said. “We must protect the military’s most important resource, which is the people who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans and our freedoms. I am grateful for the strength and perseverance that SPC Vanessa Guillén’s family has shown as we work to honor her legacy and protect future women in the military just like her.”

“I am proud of the gains Congress has made to ensure our servicemembers are safe at home, but the work mustn’t stop. The SHIIP Act will further strengthen servicemembers’ protection and remedy flaws that endanger veteran and military survivors,” Rep. Escobar said. “As her memory remains etched on our hearts, we must continue to seek justice for SPC Vanessa Guillén by rooting out sexual assault and harassment in our military and ensuring what happened to Vanessa never happens again.”

“These common sense safeguards ensure a fair investigatory process – outside the chain of command – to hold offenders accountable and maintain appropriate confidentiality,” Rep. Balderson said. “Unit cohesion and morale are critical components to force readiness. Removing these processes from the chain of command allows our Armed Forces to focus on their core missions while ensuring justice for victims, without fear of retribution.”

“My constituent, SPC Vanessa Guillén, was taken from her family and our community too soon. Her legacy and sacrifice sparked a landmark movement that removed cases of sexual assault and other serious crimes from the military’s chain of command. Her impact ensures countless veterans and military survivors do not have to live in fear. The SHIIP Act will further strengthen protections for these individuals. This remarkable step forward will provide our service members additional protections they rightfully deserve," Rep. Sylvia Garcia said.

“Sexual assault and harassment have no place in our country, specifically in the ranks of our men and women in uniform,” Rep. Gonzales said. “The SHIIP Act creates commonsense protections and processes to ensure that instances of sexual assault and other serious crimes are removed from the military’s chain of command. I was horrified by the crimes against fellow Texan and service member SPC Vanessa Guillen and I hope this legislation honors her memory and legacy as a monumental step forward in ending sexual assault and harassment in our nation’s military.”

“We have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of our service members. While we’ve taken important steps to ensure they receive the justice and support they deserve, more must be done,” Rep. Brown said. “Sexual harassment in the ranks is unacceptable and we need to treat it seriously to ensure abusers aren’t allowed to slip the cracks and continue a pattern of unacceptable behavior that upends lives and damages confidence in the system. This legislation is critical to a military justice system that respects the rights of survivors.”

“Our servicemembers have the right to an environment free of sexual harassment. But for far too long, the military’s response to this crime has failed survivors,” Senator Hirono said. “Just as we did with sexual assault in this year’s NDAA, the SHIIP Act shifts prosecutorial decisions for sexual harassment outside the chain of command and requires reports of sexual harassment to be investigated outside the immediate chain of command. This important legislation will help provide survivors the support they deserve while holding those responsible accountable and restoring faith in the military justice system. It is an important step forward in our work to end harassment and assault in the military.”

The SHIIP Act is supported by the Guillén family.

"Today marks the two year anniversary of SPC Vanessa Guillen's horrible death. Vanessa proudly served our country yet she was denied justice,” said Mayra Guillén, sister of SPC Vanessa Guillén. “The SHIIP Act is vital to protecting soldiers and would have saved Vanessa’s life. The passage of the SHIIP Act will be a form of justice and honor for my sister Vanessa Guillen.”

Specifically, the SHIIP Act extends protections against sexual harassment that Chair Speier secured in the FY22 NDAA, but were stripped out in conference. Specifically, the bill would:

·         Move prosecutorial decisions for sexual harassment from commanders to the new special trial counsel, created by the FY22 NDAA, so that independent military attorneys decide which sex-related offenses go to court-martial, and

·         Require that the new, independent sexual harassment investigators created by the FY22 NDAA are outside of the chain of command of the victim and the subject and are trained in investigating sexual harassment.

The SHIIP Act is also supported by the following organizations: Protect Our Defenders, Service Women's Action Network, Modern Military Association of America, Never Alone Advocacy, and Red, White and Bruised.

The SHIIP Act is cosponsored by: Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jim Cooper (D-TN). Katie Porter (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alma Adams (D-NC), Paul Tonko (D-NY), John Garamendi (D-CA), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC), Dina Titus (D-NV), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Danny K. Davis  (New Party-IL), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Mike Levin (D-CA), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Ron Kind (D-WI), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Marie Newman (D-IL), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI).

For a list of Chair Speier’s provisions to overhaul the military’s justice system that were passed as part of the FY22 NDAA, including her provisions to remove cases of sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, and other serious crimes from the chain of command to independent prosecutors and specially-trained investigators, click here.

A copy of the SHIIP Act bill text is attached to this press release below.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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