U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and a contingent of other U.S. lawmakers met with White House advisers Thursday, May 9, to discuss legislation meant to reduce sexual assaults and sexual violence in the military.
Walorski and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., introduced a proposal on Tuesday to address the issue, House Resolution 1864. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also introduced legislation, and Ayotte, among others, also took part in Thursday’s meeting, according to Political Ticker, the Cable News Network political blog.
“Today’s meeting was a necessary step toward strategizing a bipartisan approach to pass legislation that protects our service members and eradicates this frightening situation,” Walorski, a freshman Republican from Elkhart, said in a press release.
The Pentagon released a report this week indicating that the estimated number of U.S. troops who were sexually assaulted increased by 35 percent between 2010 and 2012, from 19,300 to 26,000, according to USA Today. Obama responded, saying the matter needs to be addressed, precipitating Thursday’s meeting.
Among the White House officials present were senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff, according to Political Ticker.
Walorski and Sanchez’s measure would strengthen existing military whistleblower protection laws to protect those who report sexual assault incidents. Both lawmakers serve on the House Armed Services Committee.