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Lawmakers unveil bipartisan invoice named after Vanessa Guillen to vary sexual harassment reporting in army

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with the Guillen household Wednesday morning and dedicated to bringing the invoice to a vote on the House flooring this fall, in accordance with the invoice’s predominant sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California. Speier stated the timing of the vote can be “either in the next few weeks or in November.”

The “I am Vanessa Guillen Act” would make sexual harassment against the law inside the Uniform Code of Military Justice and transfer prosecution selections of sexual assault and harassment instances out of the army chain of command, in accordance with the invoice’s sponsors.

In the army judicial system, the commanding officers assessment the legal investigation’s outcomes and resolve whether or not to convene a courtroom martial to prosecute the fees.

The invoice already has 73 cosponsors — each Democrat and Republican — within the House, Speier stated.

“This piece of legislation is going to transform a tragedy into change,” Speier stated Wednesday throughout a press convention on Capitol Hill with the invoice’s different backers and Guillen’s dad and mom and sisters in attendance.

The invoice would additionally require an impartial prosecutor’s willpower as whether or not a case strikes ahead and supply a possibility for victims to file claims with the Department of Defense for compensation, Speier stated. The invoice would additionally launch an exterior assessment by the US Government Accountability Office of the army’s sexual harassment response program and its protocols for lacking individuals.

“In her death, she’s going to serve her brothers and sisters in arms for years to come and protect those other men and women that maybe didn’t have a voice beforehand, and now have a place to go,” Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma stated throughout Wednesday’s press convention.

Guillen, 20, disappeared in April and her stays had been discovered June 30 in a shallow grave, in accordance with household lawyer Natalie Khawam. Guillen was bludgeoned to dying and her physique was moved from the army set up by her killer, in accordance with Khawam, who cited particulars the household realized from Army investigators.

The predominant suspect in her disappearance, one other Fort Hood soldier, Spc. Aaron Robinson, killed himself in July, when he was confronted by police in Killeen, Texas.

Khawam stated the household instructed her that Guillen had deliberate to file a harassment criticism towards Robinson the day after she was killed.

“The Army and Ft. Hood failed her. But in her name, we make the comprehensive changes needed to stop this from ever happening again,” Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, the Guillens’ consultant in Congress, stated Wednesday. “The ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020’ is a transformative piece of legislation that will save lives and help keep our women and men in this Armed Services safe.”

Getting choked up, Garcia added, “While we can never bring Vanessa back, today we honor her memory.”

Mullin urged that President Donald Trump, although he hasn’t seen the textual content of the invoice, can be supportive of the laws and “is committed to helping Vanessa’s family.”

Trump met with the household on the White House in July and, when pressed for assist on the invoice, stated he would look into it.

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono additionally plans to introduce companion laws within the Republican-led US Senate.

“You have our promise that we are going to make sure that Vanessa’s life has not been lost in vain. That you can proudly be reminded that her presence is going to be on every military base as it is transformed into an institution that protect its service members,” Speier stated, addressing the Guillen household immediately.

In a press release to CNN in late July, Fort Hood officers instructed CNN there have been 23 deaths this 12 months on the base.

Speier stated that she’s going to be part of a congressional delegation to Fort Hood on Thursday, the place they plan to talk with enlisted troopers, army police and police in Killeen, and go to the “crime scene and location of the remains of Vanessa Guillen.”

CNN’s Amir Vera and Lori Daniel contributed to this report.

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