A huge defense-authorization bill comes before the Senate in a couple of weeks and it might well tackle what some believe is a huge problem in the military.
It carries a huge price tag: $625 billion.
Yet, much talk about the defense funding bill centers on provisions that don’t cost anything, but change a lot.
Sen. Deb Fischer supports provisions that change how the military prosecutes sexual assaults within its ranks, provisions that protect the accuser.
“We need to make sure that the victims in these cases are protected,” Fischer tells reporters during a conference call.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, has pushed for changes in how the military prosecutes major crimes in response to separate rate investigations involving the Naval Academy as well as the Marine Corps Air State Miramar located in southern California.
Defense attorneys have been accused of overly aggressive interrogations of accusers. One report claims lawyers for three former Naval Academy football players alleged to have raped a female midshipman interrogated the woman for nearly 30 hours.
Fischer supports a provision that would exempt the accuser of testifying during pre-trial hearings.
Fischer says Congress must protect the sons and daughters who enter the military.
“Sometimes in all of this process we tend to overlook the victims and that’s where I believe the focus needs to be.”
Another amendment supported by Fischer would heighten standards for sexual assault prevention officers.
The amendments have been added by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Fischer is a member of the committee. The defense bill is scheduled to come before the full Senate on November 18th.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]