Braley Statement on Senate’s Failure to Pass Military Justice Improvement Act

Mar 6, 2014 Issues: Defense and National Security

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today after a filibuster in the United States Senate was used to block the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) which would have made dramatic reforms in order to protect survivors of military sexual assault.

"It’s shameful that the Senate missed this historic opportunity to make the kinds of changes sexual assault survivors have told me are needed to protect the brave men and women in our military,” Braley said. “Those who oppose these reforms are on the wrong side of history and I’m going to do everything I can to support reforms that address this crisis.”

The MJIA moves the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more in confinement to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. Currently, military commanders have the power to overrule military lawyers and prevent sexual assault prosecutions from moving forward. Braley has been a longtime advocate of removing the decision to prosecute away from the military chain of command.

This year, Braley’s guest to the State of the Union Address was Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN)—a group that has been at the center of the national effort to reform the military’s handling of military sexual assault.

In 2011, Braley introduced the Holley Lynn James Act--a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bipartisan bill was named after a constituent of Braley’s who was killed by her husband while both were in the service.