For Immediate Release

May 22, 2014

 

Contact:

DC – Bill Silverfarb (202) 225-3531 / (202) 957-4340 cell

Bill.Silverfarb@mail.house.gov

 

CA – Katrina Rill (650) 342-0300 / (650) 208-7441 cell

Katrina.Rill@mail.house.gov

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2015, which included three more Speier amendments. The amendments strengthen the federal contracting environment for women-owned small businesses; requires Department of Defense Inspector General reports related to misconduct of senior officers to be made public; and directs the Secretary of Defense to prioritize research and prevention of breast cancer. In total, the NDAA includes 16 Speier amendments.

“I’m pleased with the bipartisan support my amendments received to increase transparency, level the playing field for women-owned small businesses and to put a priority on preventing the high incidence of breast cancer among men and women serving in the military,” Congresswoman Speier said.

LATEST AMENDMENTS INCLUDED IN NDAA

Women-owned small businesses

This amendment allows women-owned small businesses to receive sole-source contracts under the same terms as other small business contracting programs and accelerates the disparity study to assess industries in the women-owned small business procurement program.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“For 20 years we’ve had goals for small business contracting and the 5 percent goal for women-owned businesses has never been met. This amendment removes a key barrier to reaching these goals because when women succeed America succeeds.”

 

Breast cancer

This amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to implement the recommendations of the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee to prioritize prevention and increase the study of chemical and physical factors in breast cancer.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“Breast cancer rates are significantly higher for women in the military compared to women of the same age in the general population at between 20 percent- to- 40 percent. At Camp Lejeune, for example, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people stationed there while the water was contaminated were more likely to die from several types of cancer, including breast cancer. It impacts men as well as more than 85 were diagnosed with breast cancer at Camp Lejeune. My amendment will put a priority on research and prevention.”

Public release of misconduct reports

This amendment requires the public release of any Department of Defense Inspector General reports that find misconduct for senior executive service (SES) officials, political appointees, and general and flag officers that rank O-6 or of a higher level.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“These reports are only released when they are leaked or there are tips to reporters. It is incumbent on us to make sure that the public knows when the department’s highest level officials commit misconduct and shouldn’t depend on leaks for accountability.”

 

SPEIER’S SEXUAL ASSAULT RELATED AMENDMENTS INCLUDED IN NDAA

Good military character

This amendment narrows the good military character evidence admissibility language and specifies that the good military character defense may only be used for specific military offenses such as being AWOL or disobeying an order. The good military character defense will be eliminated from the findings phase of courts-martial and cannot be used as a complete defense to a charge of sexual assault.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“Good military character has absolutely nothing to do with whether someone is a serial predator. How well an individual flies a jet or performs any other military duty will finally no longer be a defense to unrelated offenses like sexual assault.”

 

Privacy protection/Victims right to appeal rulings

Currently, alleged victims have no effective way to appeal the admissibility of pervious sexual history or privileged conversation with their therapist. Errors in finding this evidence to be admissible destroys cases and re-victimizes survivors. This amendment would allow military sexual assault victims to appeal a judge’s ordering the disclosure of sensitive and confidential psychotherapy records and previous sexual history. Victims of military sexual assault will have the right to interlocutory appeal to a higher court with more experience and expertise on the proper admissibility standards of Military Rule of Evidence 513 (psychotherapist-patient privilege) and MRE 412 (rape shield) rulings, in line with the rights of civilian victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act.18 USC 3771(d)(3).

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“Our soldiers deserve the same privacy rights that ordinary citizens take for granted. Military judge’s too often inappropriately order these very private conversations to be revealed without good cause which destroys cases and re-victimizes those brave enough to come forward.”

 

Psychotherapist -patient privilege modifications

This amendment aligns Military Rule of Evidence 513 (psychotherapist-patient privilege) with those under the attorney-client, penitent-clergy, and spousal privileges. Thirteen states have conformed their psycho-therapist-patient privilege to the model of attorney-client privilege. Unlike MRE 502 (attorney-client privilege) and 503 (communications to clergy), MRE 513’s 8th exception states that conversations between a therapist and an individual may be admissible if it is constitutionally required. 

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“Judges regularly abuse this exception to let in confidential communications between victims of sexual assault and their therapists. The result has been a chilling effect on victims seeking professional help for their trauma and coming forward with a report of sexual assault. Protecting these communications will give survivors greater confidence in seeking help and coming forward to report.”     

 

Personality and adjustment disorder review and correction

This amendment requires the DOD’s Inspector General review personality disorder designations that were made following an unrestricted report of sexual assault and whether all the relevant policies and procedures were followed and whether service records should be adjusted. The personality disorder designation often is used as a tool to retaliate against survivors for coming forward.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“Survivors are routinely pinned with having personality disorders after reporting they were raped or sexually assaulted. It is a tool used to end their careers and hurts their abilities to survive after leaving military life. This investigation will give us the ammunition we need to finally correct the service records of so many service members that re-victimized by their superiors and unjustly forced out of the military.  

 

 

OTHER AMENDMENTS INCLUDED IN NDAA NOT RELATED TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

Limit Funds for new Littoral Combat Ships

This amendment makes funding for any Littoral Combat Ships beyond the current contract contingent upon the Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation certifying that the test evaluation plan demonstrates operational effectiveness and operational suitability for the seaframes and mission modules. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council will certify the current requirements support operational needs, and an assessment of the survivability of the LCS.

 

Limits funds on LCS mission modules

This amendment limits the funds for mission modules until the Navy submits to the committee milestone goals for cost, schedule, and performance. The Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation will certify the number of modules necessary to support operational testing.

 

On these two amendments Congresswoman Speier said:

“Taxpayer money shouldn’t go toward technology that is unproven on a ship known to crack and corrode. The Navy needs to put the brakes on the spending until the LCS meets its required milestones and operational testing is completed. Taxpayers have already invested billions for the development of this ship and they should know it was a wise investment before they are on the hook for another $475 million on the next LCS the Navy builds.”

 

All-circuit review for civilian whistleblowers

This amendment incorporates Rep. Elijah Cummings’s bill HR 4197, the All Circuit Review Extension Act, and extends a key pilot program of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) that allows whistleblowers to appeal cases from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to any circuit court of appeals with jurisdiction.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The Federal Circuit has become increasingly restrictive of whistleblower rights in its decisions over the years. Having multiple circuits hear appeals allows courts to engage in peer review when decisions conflict through reconsideration or resolution by the Supreme Court in the event of an unresolved dispute.”

 

Ammunition Waste 

This amendment would adopt the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s recommendations to require an authoritative source of data on conventional ammunition across the Department of Defense. It will require the Army to report annually on information on all available ammunition for use during the redistribution process -- including ammunition that in a previous year was unclaimed by another service and categorized for disposal.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The possibility that $1 billion worth of good ammunition might be destroyed even when those bullets and missiles can be used to protect our troops sounds like a colossal waste and another taxpayer rip-off.”

 

Revolving Door

This amendment requires the Department of Defense to designate someone to ensure compliance on the issue of tracking former employees who find work for defense contractors, and report to the defense committees in 180 days on what steps have been taken to ensure compliance.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The IG found the revolving door database required by law was so incomplete it can’t even receive a failing grade. I am disturbed the Pentagon has willfully violated the law and thumbed its nose to Congressional intent to protect the integrity of our defense procurement system. The Pentagon will have 180 days to put someone in charge to report to Congress and ensure compliance or this database will have to be made public next year.”

 

Survey on Service Member Preferences Regarding Military Pay and Benefits

This amendment would require a random survey of service members to assess what benefits are most valued by service members and their families.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The costs of military personnel and operations and maintenance will consume 86% of the budget by 2021, and that the costs of military personnel alone will consume the entire defense budget by 2039. But any plan for reform must be based on data about what service members value most. Preliminary surveys of personnel have shown that many of our assumptions about what personnel value most may be wrong. Increasing basic pay for junior enlisted has more than 6 times the impact than a dollar spent increasing basic pay for senior officers, and that service members do not value TRICARE for Life commensurate with what it costs the Department. We owe our military and taxpayers a sustainable benefit system that balances our gratitude for their service with the government’s fiscal realities.”

 

Alzheimer’s research

This amendment authorizes the Department of Defense to research Alzheimer’s disease. Service members with Traumatic Brain Injuries may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury takes place. The Alzheimer’s Association has found that Traumatic Brain Injuries may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury takes place.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“It is critical we understand the relationship between Traumatic Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s because it is the most expensive disease to treat in America. It is estimated that one in eight Baby Boomers will develop the disease which will cause Medicare and Medicaid costs to soar from about $140 billion today to $800 billion by 2050. DOD research could spare millions of Americans from going bankrupt as well as our health care system.”

 

Spare parts review

This amendment authorizes the Department of Defense Inspector General to review spare parts costs. The DOD has an estimated $96 billion in parts and inventory at any one time and has disposed of nearly $15 billion in excess parts in the past three years. Speier has spoken on the House floor on this wasteful spending in a segment called "The Price is Wrong."

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The days of $436 hammers, $7,600 coffeemakers and $640 toilet seats are far from over. Private contractors are fleecing taxpayers whose investment in our nation’s defense is ending up in the toilet. Military services should be going to the Defense Logistics Agency to get these parts, but they think that it’s faster and cheaper to go to directly to the contractor and so they pay exorbitant prices for small dollar items.”

 

 

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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.