By Jeremy Herb - 06/04/13 09:34 PM EDT
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is facing criticism for his comments that the “hormone level” of young service members creates an atmosphere in the military where sexual assault can occur.
“The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23,” Chambliss said at a Senate Armed Services hearing on sexual assault Tuesday.
The remark prompted Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, to say in a statement that Chambliss’s comments do “nothing to help change the culture of our military.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called on Chambliss to apologize.
“For a U.S. senator or anyone to write off sexual assault and the personal violation of a woman or a man to the raging hormones of youth shows just how dramatically out of touch the Republican Party is,” she said on MSNBC.
“He should apologize, and I think he should think about if, God forbid, a sexual assault happened to a daughter of his, would he think it was okay for a senator to just chalk the assault up to raging hormones?”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh also was criticized last month for trying to explain why sexual assaults occur in the military. Welsh said at a Senate Armed Services hearing that part of the issue was the “hook-up mentality of junior high, even, and high school students now.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) afterward called the remark "disturbing."
“One of the pieces of testimony that was most disturbing is when the chief of staff said that he felt the incident rate was due to the 'hook-up culture’ lingering from high school,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) said after the hearing on MSNBC.
Welsh later apologized for the comment, saying he misspoke.
Gillibrand is pushing legislation that would take the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases outside the chain of command, which the military leaders expressed opposition to on Tuesday.