Texas' freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is used to taking on enemies, and now he is taking on one that is far better armed than he is: the U.S. Military.
1200 WOAI news reports that Cruz is co sponsoring a bill that would strip military commanders of their authority to investigate, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of sexual assault in the ranks, instead turning that responsibility over to a civilian commission.
"For any young solder, to be subjected to sexual assault and rape is completely unacceptable," Cruz told 1200 WOAI news. "I am encouraged that we can find a bi partisan commission coming together."
Cruz is co sponsoring the measure with Sen. Kathleen Gillebrand (D-New York).
The proposal is wildly unpopular with all levels of the U.S. military. Currently, military base and post commanders have complete and unquestioned authority over who is investigated and prosecuted, and what punishment they receive if found guilty. Maj. Nidal Hasan could have conceivably been set free on the order of the Fort Hood post commander.
Several of Cruz's fellow Republicans are threatening to filibuster the bill to death, but it also has support from several groups which advocate for victims of sexual assault in the ranks.
The issue was first proposed in 2011, when the scope of the sex with recruits scandal at Lackland Air Force Base became public, and there were allegations that claims of sexual abuse by Military Training Instructors was not being taken seriously.
The issue gained more traction last year, when a decorated Air Force pilot was convicted of sexual assault at a U.S. base in Italy, only to have his conviction, sentence, and responsibility to register as a sex offender, removed by the base commander, who was an old friend.
"We would remove the decision to prosecute these types of crimes, and put that responsibility into the hands of impartial experienced prosecutors," Cruz said.
There are an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults and forcible rapes in the U.S. military each year, and it is estimated that the majority of the victims are men.