WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers have approved legislation to stem the growing epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.
The bill approved by a House panel Wednesday authorizes changes to military law that would strip commanding officers of their authority to unilaterally change or dismiss court-martial convictions in major cases, such as rape and assault.
Republicans and Democrats backing the revisions believe they will lead to a cultural shift in the armed forces that encourages more victims to step forward.
The bill also would impose harsher penalties on service members found guilty of sexual offenses by requiring that they be dismissed or dishonorably discharged.
The chairman of the military personnel subcommittee, Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, says the measures are significant and will lead to increased reports of sex-related crimes.
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