refused, by a vote of 34-28, to transfer the power to dispose of charges from commanders to judge advocates. According to ABC News:
In a win for the Pentagon, the committee endorsed leaving the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes with military commanders.
In an emotionally charged debate, the panel narrowly rejected a measure that would have stripped commanders of the longstanding authority to decide whether to pursue a case, especially if it was related to sexual assault, and hand the job to seasoned military lawyers. The vote was 34-28.
Pentagon leaders vigorously oppose the change in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, arguing that commanders should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the men and women they lead in war and peacetime. Female lawmakers in the Senate and House have questioned whether the military's mostly male leadership understands differences between relatively minor sexual offenses and serious crimes that deserve swift and decisive justice.
"We have not fixed this," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., sponsor of the measure.
Offering their support for the measure were two House members who have experienced war — one who lost both legs and partial use of an arm in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Iraq and one who served in the 29th Infantry Brigade's medical operations near Baghdad.
Both veterans are women.
"I love the military with every bone in my body," Rep. Tammy Duckworth said. "I am devastated to see how sexual predators are treated."
The Illinois Democrat said she "gradually, painfully" came to the conclusion that decisions on prosecution should be taken out of the military chain of command.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said the voices of the victims need to be heard.
Opponents of the measure maintained that commanders must be held accountable and that the military leadership was working to address the problem.Watch for floor amendments when the bill comes up for consideration by the full House during the week of May 19.