Committee bill would change military judicial code

Wilson’s legislation embraced one change proposed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to prevent commanders from being able to dismiss verdicts in a post-trial review, although sentences could still be reduced.

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The proposed change was prompted by widespread outrage in Congress over a case earlier this year in which a commander tossed out a guilty verdict in an Air Force sexual assault case.

Hagel ordered a review of the case and the underlying authority, which led to the proposed change.

Lawmakers have largely endorsed the measure, and Wilson’s measure drew from legislation proposed by Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).

The subcommittee’s bill also would require dismissal or dishonorable discharge for any service member convicted of rape or sexual assault.

The bill also expands a Victims Counsel pilot program and allows victims apply for a permanent station or unit transfer.

The House panel’s legislation does not include proposals to remove sexual assault cases from the military’s chain of command, a step that has been pushed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

The bills from Gillibrand and Speier are likely to be debated during the full committee’s mark-up of the authorization bill in June.

In addition to the sexual assault measures, Wilson’s subcommittee mark also rejected proposals in the Pentagon’s 2014 budget to increase TRICARE fees, which would be the second-straight year Congress has said no to new health fees.