NDAA advances in House as Dems call for tougher language on sexual violence

A separate rule dealing with amendments to the bill will be passed by the House on Thursday, which will start a lengthy process of amendment consideration that could stretch late into Thursday night.

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Several Democrats said that they would push for improved sexual assault language in light of reports that 26,000 people were sexually abused in the military last year. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a vocal advocate of radical steps to curb sexual violence, called on members to support her language that would take sexual abuse investigations out of the normal chain of command — language that has already been rejected at the committee level.

"Seventy men and women serving in the military every single day are sexually assaulted and raped," she said during debate. "While we sit here and we talk, that's going on.

"And for over 25 years … we have known about this problem and we have done very little."

Republicans said the bill takes several steps to curb sexual abuse, including by giving direct commanders less authority over sexual abuse cases once there is a conviction. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said it would also expanding legal counsel to victims, and kick out members of the military who commit assaults or have inappropriate relationships with people they train directly.

"No longer will a victim be forced to salute their predator," he said. But Democrats were unconvinced.

"I commend the work of Mr. Turner and others for strengthening protections for women in the military, but it's not enough," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said. "The amendments from Jackie Speier and other women leaders were not included. We need an open rule where all of these ideas can come to the floor to protect men and women in the military."

Another reason why Democrats opposed the rule is because it governs debate on H.R. 1256, the Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act. This bill would exempt foreign countries from U.S. rules on the exchange of financial swap data as long as they have broadly equivalent rules to those in the United States.

It would also prohibit the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to agree on identical rules on cross-border swaps.

The House is expected to debate and pass this bill later Wednesday.