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House Votes Today on Whistleblowers in the Military

Women in the Military
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Last week, we wrote about an exciting new bill in the Senate that would expand whistleblower protections to those who expose sexual abuse and other misconduct in the military—reforms that are critically needed. This week, there is even more momentum on this issue on Capitol Hill. Today as the House Armed Services Committee votes on the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2014 (NDAA), Representatives Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) are offering an amendment that would mirror the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013.

An unacceptably high percentage—62 percent—of military members who reported sexual abuse last year said they faced retaliation for their courage. The Speier-Coffman Amendment would, like the bill introduced by Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), not only provide corrective relief to the victims of retaliation, but also justly discipline those who retaliate. The importance of this new accountability measure cannot be overstated—without it, the culture of intimidation and silence currently plaguing the military will stand unopposed.

The Project On Government Oversight organized a letter from a diverse group of organizations—including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and groups from across the ideological spectrum such as Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Peace Action—to call on members of the Committee to vote YES on Speier-Coffman.

Accountability for wrongdoing is the driving force that sets these reforms apart from previous protections. As the letter explains, “there is already a provision in the NDAA that will add sexual assault and misconduct to protected disclosures—but it does nothing to fix the fact that the current law is a trap for those who try to use it. The law as it stands has a nearly insurmountable bar for proving retaliation—the highest bar of any whistleblower law.” The Speier-Coffman Amendment would lower that bar, giving those in the military the same fair shot at proving retaliation afforded to other government whistleblowers.

Our women and men in the military deserve better than the third-rate rights they currently have. We hope to see the House Armed Services Committee support the troops in the markup today.

Image from the U.S. Air Force.

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson At the time of publication Christine Anderson was a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Congressional Oversight, Defense

Authors: Christine Anderson

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