House defense bill doesn't include Pentagon proposal to make sexual harassment stand-alone military crime

House defense bill doesn't include Pentagon proposal to make sexual harassment stand-alone military crime
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A Pentagon request to make sexual harassment a stand-alone crime in the military justice system came too late for the House Armed Services Committee to include it in its annual defense policy bill, committee staff said Monday.

“We got the request a little for our process," a committee staffer told reporters. "If something comes later on, then we’ll look at it as it happens.”

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The Pentagon in May asked Congress to make sexual harassment a stand-alone crime in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as part of list of recommendations from the Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force created at the urging of Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Trump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing MORE (R-Ariz.), who recently disclosed she was raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force.

The Senate’s version of the defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes the requested provision.

While the House Armed Services Committee’s version does not, the panel's personnel subcommittee includes several other provision aimed at tackling sexual assault, staffers said Monday.

The provisions include expanding special victim’s counsel to domestic violence victims and increasing criminal investigators in an effort to reduce the duration of investigations, staffers said.

Asked about taking the decision to prosecute sexual assault away from military commanders or studying that possibility — a step supported by some lawmakers and advocates — the staffer said it’s “not in the subcommittee” legislation.

Outside of sexual assault, the personnel’s subcommittee portion of the NDAA tackles the heated issue of military housing.

A 2018 Reuters investigation, followed by a series of congressional hearings, unveiled instances of black mold, rodent infestation and collapsing ceilings in military housing, prompting bipartisan outrage.

To address the issue, the NDAA would require the military to look at mold mitigations and prevention standards. The bill would also require an evaluation of a rating scale for housing based on health hazards and safety.

Staffers said the readiness subcommittee, whose portion of the bill will be released later Monday, includes other provisions to address housing issues.

The personnel subcommittee’s portion of the bill would fund a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops and further authorize the number of troops requested by the administration, staffers said. For active-duty, that means the Army would get 2,000 more soldiers, 1,623 more sailors for the Navy, 100 more troops for the Marines and 2,492 more airmen for the Air Force.