Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in leading a letter with 64 congressional colleagues calling for the full inclusion of a broadly bipartisan bill reforming how the military addresses sexual assault in the final Defense Department funding package. The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA), which was co-authored by Gillibrand and Grassley, is expected to pass the Senate in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) currently under consideration by the Senate, but could be weakened or removed when the package is merged with the House of Representatives’ version of the NDAA.
“It is outrageous that the Senate and House Armed Services Committees would even consider stripping out a provision that is backed by a bipartisan majority in both chambers and has been included in the Senate version of the bill. Sexual assault in the military is a serious concern and demands a real solution, not a watered-down provision slipped in the final bill behind closed doors. Retaining the full Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act provision will ensure that the will of this strong majority is respected. It is the only reform that will provide true independence for prosecutors in the military justice system and is essential to ensure that victims, accused, and the public all have full faith and confidence in the military justice process,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter this week to Armed Services Committee leadership from both congressional chambers.
MJIIPA would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision over whether to prosecute them to independent, experienced military prosecutors. The bill is cosponsored by 66 senators and 220 members of House of Representatives. Passing the full MJIIPA is supported by a coalition of veterans groups and 29 state attorneys general.
The bipartisan and bicameral letter is signed by 44 senators and 22 members of the House. Along with Grassley and Gillibrand, cosigners include Sens. Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Booker (D-N.J.), Brown (D-Ohio), Cardin (D-Md.), Carper (D-Del.), Casey (D-Pa.), Coons (D-Del.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cruz (R-Texas), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Ernst (R-Iowa), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Hawley (R-Mo.), Hassan (D-N.H.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kaine (D-Va.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Lujan (D-N.M.), Markey (D-Mass.), Marshall (R-Kan.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Murphy (D-Conn.), Murray (D-Wash.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Shaheen (D-N.H.), T. Smith (D-Minn.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tuberville (R-Ala.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Warner (D-Va.), Warnock (D-Ga.), Warren (D-Mass.) and Wyden (D-Ore.).
Members of the House include Representatives Adams (D-N.C.), Bass (D-Calif.), Brown (D-Md.), Carson (D-Ind.), Davis (D-Ill.), Escobar (D-Texas), Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Garamendi (D-Calif.), Hayes (D-Conn.), Horsford (D-Nev.), Hudson (R-N.C.), Johnson (D-Ga.), Khanna (D-Calif.), Lee (D-Calif.), McBath (D-Ga.), Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Mullins (R-Okla.), Norton, (D-D.C.), Speier (D-Calif.), Turner (R-Ohio.), Veasey (D-Texas) and Williams (D-Ga.).
Read the full letter here.