WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee voted down two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2015 to reform how sexual assaults and other criminal offenses are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Currently, the authority to prosecute such cases rests solely with the chain of command.
“The thoughtful and passionate debate tonight changed minds and votes. I was deeply moved by the statements of my colleagues especially those who served in the military. They more than anyone understand the importance of commanders, and how truly broken our military justice system is.” Congresswoman Speier said. “The growing support for taking sexual assault offenses out of the chain of command should encourage survivors and service members that we are closer to creating a fair and impartial military justice system.”
“While we have much work in front of us, we are light-years ahead of where we started. It’s also important to remember that a majority of the American people is behind us, even if the House Armed Services Committee is not yet fully supportive.
“Our service members are stuck in a world where their fates rest within the chain of command, where bias is king and justice often a jester. 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 first amendment would have given the Chief Prosecutor of each service the discretion of whether to prosecute sexual assaults and other serious non-military offenses and received 13 yes votes to 49 no votes. The second amendment addressed only sexual assaults and received 28 yes votes to 34 no votes. 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.
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.