06/28/13 The House of Representatives today passed a bill authored by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), H.R. 1864, to extend whistleblower protections to military sexual assault victims with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 423-0. As her first standalone bill, this legislation requires the Inspector General to investigate allegations of retaliation in connection to a servicemember reporting an act of sexual violence and includes reports of sexual assault as a form of communication under military whistleblower protections.
“The House has passed this commonsense bill and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same,” said Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This provision was added to the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA, but we have not yet gone to conference. With the growing epidemic of sexual assault, our servicemembers deserve immediate action to eradicate future violence and establish safe reporting.”
Walorski’s sexual assault measure was included in the House version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and a companion bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Claire McCaskill. Today’s passage as a standalone bill provides an opportunity for Congress to prioritize the military sexual assault crisis and sign meaningful protections into law as soon as possible.
“Every day our brave servicemembers put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms from foreign threats. It is unthinkable that our troops should face the additional and unacceptable threat of sexual assault from within their very own ranks, and I am proud my first bill in Congress will work toward ending violence in the Armed Forces,” said Walorski.
According to a recent Pentagon report, there were an estimated 26,000 cases committed against servicemembers last year alone with only 3,600 cases reported. It is also reported that 62 percent of those who have been assaulted went on to experience some form of retaliation.
To watch Walorski’s remarks on the House floor yesterday, click here.