South Dakota's Noem authors defense bill provisions
The budget battle brewing for months may soon be close to an end. Lawmakers in the United States House are poised to vote on a bipartisan budget deal.
Part of the deal includes a comprehensive defense policy bill that aims to stem the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military, cover the cost of combat pay for the nation's war-fighters, and fund new aircraft and ships.
It passed Thursday evening by a vote of 350 to 69. It puts pressure on the Senate to act before it adjourns next week.
South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, authored three provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act dealing with military sexual assaults.
"None of these reforms are a silver bullet, but they do take important steps in helping to address and correct the sexual assault crisis in our military," said Rep. Noem.
The three provisions would improve investigation procedures, require the pentagon to develop specific qualifications for those who investigate and work with cases, and require the military to review sexual assault prevention and training programs.
The bill would also strip military commanders of the ability to overturn jury convictions in sexual assault cases and criminalize retaliation against a victim of sexual assault.
Although the bill has strong support, some Senate Republicans may try to block it, angered by Democratic leader Harry Reid for changing the rules last month to reduce their power over nominations.
Reid also denied them a chance to offer amendments to the defense bill.
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