Ernst, Tillis bill bolsters military prevention policies for sexual assault, domestic violence

U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on June 9 introduced a bipartisan bill that would improve sexual assault and domestic violence prevention policies within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

The senators signed on as original cosponsors of the Protecting our Servicemembers through Proven Methods Act, S. 4367, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and four other cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

If enacted, S. 4367 would direct the DOD Secretary to collect comprehensive data on the causes of sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence in the United States military, and to improve certain sexual assault and domestic violence prevention policies.

“I’ve long said we need to prioritize preventing sexual abuse in our military, and this bipartisan effort is an important step toward doing just that by ensuring the DOD has both the best and most comprehensive data and is held accountable to provide top-notch sexual assault prevention and response training to our servicemembers,” said Sen. Ernst.

The bill also would require the Government Accountability Office to compare the DOD-determined causes with similar data from civilian communities, other federal civilian agencies, and public universities, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Our service members are still falling victim to sexual assault and domestic violence, despite decades of efforts to combat it,” Sen. Tillis said. “We still don’t have sufficient data on why it continues to happen, which is why we introduced this legislation to enhance data collection within the Department of Defense.

“Understanding the causes and reasoning behind sexual assault and domestic violence will enhance the protection of our service members by strengthening preventative measures,” he added.

The legislation has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.