Under current law, the Defense Department inspector general (IG) is tasked with examining whether reports of sexual harassment have led to retaliatory personnel actions. Walorski's bill, H.R. 1864, would expand that to require the IG to look at whether reports of rape, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct has led to retaliation.

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"Service members who become victims of sexual violence deserve nothing less than the assurance and peace of mind that they can safely report these crimes without fear of reprisal from within their ranks," Walorski said in May when she introduced the bill.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), who said the lack of reporting on sexual assault crimes in the military reflects a culture that needs to be changed from the outside.

"This reflects a terrible problem of culture and climate in our ranks, one that requires action — not just rhetoric — from Congress and the military," she said.

Consideration of this bill follows House passage earlier this month of the National Defense Authorization Act, which also included several provisions aimed at dealing with the increase in sexual assault.

That bill stripped the ability of commanders to overturn guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases and put in place a minimum sentence of dismissal for offenders. However, the bill did not create a separate process outside the military's chain of command for prosecuting sexual assault cases, something many Democrats were demanding.