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Analysis: Mikulski Engaged In Military Sexual Assault Debate, Calls For More Accountability

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The recent sexual assault charges against three midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis have U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland calling for more accountability at the military academies. Mikulski also chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is pushing back against the second round of so-called sequester cuts that are set to go into effect next fiscal year. David Hawkings, of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, has the latest details.

On how engaged Sen. Barbara Mikulski is on the issue of sexual assault in the military: "I would say very engaged... she has a seat on the Naval Academy Board of Visitors. She's also the new chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee of the Senate — the first woman apparently to ever hold that job. She's the senior woman on the Senate... those women seem to have banded together on the issue of sexual assault."

On whether the U.S. Naval Academy rape case will affect Congressional debates on sexual assault in the military: "The case from the Naval Academy happened at the wrong time to get considered or to play apart in the initial debate on sexual assault in the military. Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to do not what the women wanted... it was a split. The chairman of the Armed Services Committee decided it should stay in the chain of command; he had the votes for that. The women will now have another chance to re-engage on that debate, although it looks like everything else that's piling up on the Senate calendar, it won't get back to debating defense policy before the fall."

On Sen. Mikulski moving forward on a 2014 spending plan and ignoring spending limits put in place by sequestration: "That's a good question, because Sen. Mikulski's watchword has sort of been to sort of stick to regular order — regular order sort of being the buzzword in Congress for doing things the old fashion way. And the old fashion way would be complying with what's in the statutory law, which would be to cut the spending plan all the way down."

On how Republican leaders are responding to the Democratic spending plan: "What this probably signals is that this will be as dysfunctional a process as it has been for many years. If Sen. Mikulski succeeds in even getting one of her spending bills passed by the full Senate, that will be a big change, because actually in the six years since the Democrats have started controlling the Senate, only two of those years has the Senate even passed one spending bill."

Listen to the full analysis here.

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