Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues is demanding the U.S. military correct problems with its handling of sexual assaults in legislation due for a vote as soon as this week. Grassley, a Republican, says there are countless examples of service members who have come forward with reports of sexual assault within the ranks or accounts of retaliation for reporting those assaults.
“In Washington, promises of reform are often just promises until an institution is forced into action,” Grassley says. “The action often comes after public embarrassment and pressure through outside scrutiny.” The bill is called the Military Justice Improvement Act and Grassley says it aims to create an independent, objective and unbiased military justice system. Grassley says it would empower victims to come forward by taking the judicial process for sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.
“The military’s approach to sexual assault seems to be a brick wall and that brick wall is not crumbling under the usual pressures,” Grassley says. “Even as Congress hears from military leaders that changes are happening, the evidence of change is very thin.”
The longer members of Congress wait to act on the issue, Grassley says, the more they’ll be failing the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. “There’s an old Washington expression that trying to turn around a bureaucracy is like trying to turn around an aircraft carrier,” Grassley says. “That takes time and effort. When it comes to military justice, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the aircraft carrier to turn around. We need action now.”
Earlier this year, the bill got 55 votes in the Senate but needed 60 to pass. Grassley says he’s confident it will win approval this time and be added to the Defense Authorization bill either this week or next week.