Meehan reforms included in Defense Bill

A compromise reached on the Defense Bill between House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday included bipartisan reforms to protect victims of sexual assault in the military proposed by Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Meehan and Speier introduced the Article 32 Reform Act, which calls for changes to pretrial hearings that are required before a military sexual assault can be referred to a court martial under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The compromise reached on the Defense Bill includes reforms to Article 32 pretrial hearings and other new protections for victims of sexual assault in the military.

“The men and women who serve our nation in uniform should have confidence that victims of sexual assault will be treated fairly and that the perpetrators will face justice,” Meehan said. “These measures are prudent, responsible reforms that protect the victims of sexual assault in our military.”

Under other reforms outlined in the Defense Bill, commanders would no longer have authority to dismiss a court martial finding and would be prohibited from changing guilty findings to a lesser offense, according to the House Armed Services Committee.

Meehan commended House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (R-Mich.) for including the reforms in the Defense Bill.