House Approves Defense Policy Measure

The House on Friday approved H.R. 1960, its version of the 2014 defense authorization bill, by a voice vote of 315-108. The legislation authorizes $527 billion in base funding and $85.8 billion in overseas contingency operations funds—a $2.7 billion decrease from the Fiscal 2013 authorized OCO level. The measure places a heavy emphasis on combating sexual assaults in the military. Specifically, it strips commanders’ authority to overturn jury convictions in sexual assault cases and imposes a minimum sentence of dismissal for sexual assault offenders. A Democratic amendment, however, that would have taken the decision to try sexual assault cases out of the hands of commanders was defeated before the final vote. On June 12, the Senate Armed Services Committee struck a similar measure introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “This bill makes vital investments to repair our crumbling readiness, ensures our troops have the support and benefits they deserve and have earned, and institutes reforms designed to stamp out the incidents of sexual assault within the ranks,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) in a statement. “Every member can be proud of the work they have done here today.”