House pressures Senate on sexual assault prevention training for military

But even with the lopsided vote in favor of the motion, the vote was not without some controversy in the House. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who has spoken all year on the need to address rape in the U.S. military, praised that language as a step toward finally working to address this problem.

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"This is a cancer that is eating up our military," she said, noting that the Defense Department estimates 19,000 men and women are assaulted or raped each year, while little is done about it. "There is a message in the military: shut up, take an aspirin, go to bed, sleep it off."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) bristled at those words, even as he said he supports the language on enhanced sexual assault prevention training.

"[T]o attack the military and make them like they are the worst people in the world …" McKeon said in reaction. "I refuse to have the innuendo or the charge that the military is corrupt top to bottom.

"Nineteen thousand is excessive, it is something that never should have happened," he added. "This will take care of it."

The House also voted 406-17 to close House-Senate negotiations on the DOD bill, for national security reasons.

And in a third vote, the House approved a separate Democratic motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 2055, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

Democrats noted that the Senate version of this bill has $51 million more in funding for medical and prosthetic research, and that the House should fight to maintain that language. They said this funding would help troops returning home with depression and other medical problems.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued that the motion is unnecessary, since the Veterans Administration still has enough unobligated money to fund the priority even if Congress were to strike the funding completely. Nonetheless, the House easily approved the motion, 409-13.

— This story was updated at 1:52 p.m.