Press Releases

Representatives Trahan, Turner, and Cisneros Introduce Bipartisan “Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act”

Identical legislation in the Senate is being led by Senators Sinema and Ernst

Washington, June 11, 2019

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Mike Turner (R-OH), and Gil Cisneros (D-CA) introduced The Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act. This bipartisan bill focuses on confronting the root causes of sexual assault in the military and is the House Companion to legislation in the Senate that is being sponsored by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

“There is an urgent need to tackle sexual misconduct and violence in our military. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas made great strides supporting victims and servicemembers impacted by this kind of behavior and reforming how cases are handled. Now, we must work to confront the conditions that allow it to happen in the first-place head on. That is why I am honored to join with my colleagues in the House, Representatives Turner and Cisneros, to introduce this important bill. We can make meaningful progress towards safeguards for those who stand up and answer the call to service. I’m grateful for the opportunity to champion this important issue,” said Congresswoman Trahan.

“This bill is a strong step forward in helping prevent sexual assault in the military. I have worked across the aisle on a bipartisan basis for over a decade to create a safer work environment for our servicemembers. I am proud to continue that work with Rep. Trahan in addressing this critical issue,” said Congressman Turner, co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.

“While the military has made progress in protecting and empowering survivors of sexual assault, we must push for further resources and accountability. Sexual assault has no place within our military and I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure our servicemembers receive the support, respect, and justice they deserve. We have a responsibility to end sexual assault within our armed forces,” said Congressman Cisneros.

“The military has made progress in protecting and empowering survivors of sexual assault, but more must be done to prevent assault in the first place. We’re continuing our work to protect servicemembers from sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Senator Sinema.

“Having spent more than 23 years serving in uniform, and as a survivor of sexual assault, I understand the urgent need to tackle the issue of sexual misconduct in our military. The way we address this issue needs to be bicameral, and bipartisan. This bipartisan bill, a companion to the one that Senator Sinema and I are pushing in the Senate, will not only expand support for victims and servicemembers, but focus on preventing these incidents from happening in the first place,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities

“Protect Our Defenders proudly and fiercely supports the Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act. The military has thus far failed to quell the number of sexual assaults committed within its ranks, thus necessitating the assistance and advice of an informed and unbiased task force. Regarding the other bill provisions, Protect Our Defenders fully endorses the increased transparency that this bill would provide to victims of military sexual assault, as well as the expanded opportunities for career advancement for enlisted members interested in pursuing advanced degrees in law,” said Adelaide Kahn, Program and Services Manager, Protect Our Defenders.

"The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence is grateful for the leadership of representatives Trahan, Turner and Cisneros in introducing the Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act.  It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all institutions are doing everything in their power to address and end sexual violence. Strong protections for survivors as well as a critical focus on preventing future violence are absolutely necessary to accomplish this goal in the military," said Terri Poore, Policy Director, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Background:
The Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act directs the Defense Department to create a civilian advisory committee on sexual assault prevention. The committee would be comprised of up to 20 civilian members with expertise in campus sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, public health, and culture change of large organizations, among other areas. The committee would advise the Secretary of Defense on ways to implement new programs or improve existing programs dedicated to preventing sexual assault.

Additionally, the bill would require commanders to keep victims informed of the status of their cases on a monthly basis until final adjudication. The bill would also allow the military to pay for exceptionally qualified enlisted members to attend law school and join the JAG Corps under the already-existing Funded Legal Education Program.

You can read the text of this legislation HERE:

###