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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2014

House panel backs Pentagon on sexual assault cases, narrowly rejects changes to justice system


WASHINGTON — A House panel has endorsed leaving to military commanders the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes.

On a narrow 34-28 vote late today, the House Armed Services Committee rejected a measure that would have stripped the authority from commanders and given it to seasoned, independent prosecutors.

The vote came as the panel worked through a marathon session crafting a $601 billion defense policy bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The committee was expected to wrap up the bill by day’s end.

The emotionally charged debate over sexual assault involved two of the female war veterans in the House — Reps. Tammy Duckworth and Tulsi Gabbard. Both voted to take the authority from commanders.

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