VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges Support for Military Sexual Assault Survivors in Annual Defense Bill
Adds several crucial provisions to the FY15 Defense bill
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) last night voted in the House Armed Services Committee to advance the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015. During the more than 14 hours of debate, she made an impassioned argument for including reforms to the military justice system that would remove a commander’s authority to determine whether a sexual assault case should be prosecuted.
“Through this whole conversation about this epidemic of sexual assault in the military, the voice that is not often heard enough is the voices of those servicemembers who have been through this,,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard during debate over the NDAA in the House Armed Services Committee. “When you speak to them one-on-one, they tell you that the number one change that will make a difference – it won’t solve this complicated issue, but it will make a difference – is taking this decision-making authority outside of the chain of command.
“This will not solve the entire problem. This is not the silver bullet. There is not one that exists. I don’t believe that. But this will create a significant change to this problem that we have faced for decades. My concern is that when Congress shifts its attention to another issue, will we have a system that is in place that will hold people accountable and that will maintain this fair, transparent, and independent system that will bring about justiceʻ”
Last year, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced military justice reform legislation in the House. Their bill received wide bipartisan support in the House, including Democratic and Republican leadership.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also successfully passed amendments to the NDAA regarding missile defense for Hawai‘i, civil liberties protections in cyber systems, US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, which would:
- Require the Missile Defense Agency to report on keeping the Aegis Ashore missile defense test system permanently at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, and converting it from a test site to a full-time operational site for the defense of Hawai‘i;
- Improve accountability of DOD cybersecurity systems, calling for the Department to incorporate new privacy and civil liberties protections into its cyber systems;
- Increase accountability for Department of Defense funds used to combat drug trafficking;
- And was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan amendment proposed by Representatives Madeleine Bordallo (GU-0), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) and Randy Forbes (VA-04) that calls for a comprehensive U.S strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
The NDAA will go to the full House for consideration later this month.