We have all heard the laments about political gridlock in Washington, D.C., stopping Congress from accomplishing anything from gun legislation to immigration reform.
However, there is one issue that has lawmakers reaching across the aisle to get something done — sexual abuse in the military.
The news about sexual violence against both women and men in our nation’s military services is so egregious that usual political combatants have joined forces to fight the armed services with Washington’s own big guns.
Case in point: Missouri senators, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt, are working hand in hand on this issue. Blunt, who has stood up against McCaskill and the Democrats on plenty of national issues, said last month that he would be a co-sponsor of the BE SAFE Act co-authored by McCaskill and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, along with Representatives Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., in the House.
BE SAFE — Better Enforcement for Sexual Assault Free Environments — is one of a handful of bills intended to hold perpetrators accountable while better protecting victims of sexual violence. It would be included in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
McCaskill, a former prosecutor with plenty of experience handling sex crimes, has been hammering military witnesses. “The predators in your rank are soiling the great name of our American military,” she told a panel of 12 military chiefs of staff and judge advocate generals from all branches.
Blunt has been genuinely effusive about the work McCaskill has been doing for the past six years in the Senate. “Senator McCaskill has been, since the day she got here, trying to bring attention to this effort,” he said during a recent hearing.
Having someone with Blunt’s status join in this fight is important if Congress expects to get anything done. We appreciate the veteran lawmaker’s willingness to lend his considerable political weight to the effort and his example of cooperation and congeniality.
As we hear more stories of victims losing their military careers while perpetrators are too often promoted and cases of those court-martialed having their convictions overturned by military brass, it becomes apparent that determined and bipartisan efforts in Congress are necessary.
With Blunt joining McCaskill, we have some big guns aimed at the problem.
Copyright Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.