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Military Sexual Assault a ‘National Disgrace,’ Boehner Says

As pressure mounts on Capitol Hill to address the rising number of cases of sexual assault in the military, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested that he supports the House taking action through legislation.

“I want to applaud Buck McKeon, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who will address this in the defense authorization bill,” Boehner said Thursday of his California Republican colleague. “I also want to applaud the work of Congressman Mike Turner, who has been on the Department of Defense now for over two years to get to the bottom of this.

“It’s outrageous,” Boehner continued, “and, frankly, it’s a national disgrace.”

He did not elaborate, though, on what specific proposal he believes should be included in the DOD bill.

As our CQ Roll Call colleague Megan Scully reported earlier this week, the growing alarm over the increasing number of sexual-assault cases has resulted in a flurry of legislation. There are at least four legislative proposals circulating through the House and four in the Senate.

While the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill may adopt some of those proposals when the full Armed Services Committee meets to mark up the bill on June 5, Scully reported, they are likely to divide members on either side of the aisle and within their own parties.

One of the biggest points of contention could relate to chain of command issues — some lawmakers want military lawyers or an independent panel to rule on sexual assault cases, while currently military commanders decide how to proceed.

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