White House meeting with lawmakers on military sexual assault

His comments came on the heels of a new Pentagon report that found the number of estimated sexual assaults had increased by more than a third in 2012 to 26,000.

Thursday’s meeting includes roughly a dozen lawmakers from both parties and both chambers. Many who were invited are key players in Congress as it is poised to make changes to the military’s judicial code in an attempt to curb the number of assaults.

Among the expected attendees are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Kay Hagan (D-N.C.); Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.); Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.); Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.); Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio), according to congressional aides.

There are several different proposals in Congress to deal with sexual assault, and the measures are expected to be taken up during next month’s markups of the Defense authorization bill.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also submitted a proposal to Congress, which would strip military commanders of the ability to overturn guilty verdicts in most criminal cases.

Some lawmakers, including Gillibrand, want to go further and remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military’s chain of command.

— Justin Sink contributed.

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