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House will vote on bill named after slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén

Army launches new Fort Hood investigation
Army launches new Fort Hood investigation 01:27

A group of lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan bill named after slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén on Wednesday that is designed to help victims report sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House would vote on the legislation. 

The "I Am Vanessa Guillén Act" was introduced by Democrat Rep. Jackie Spier of California and Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma in a news conference alongside Guillén's family and other congressional members. It aims to allow service members to report sexual harassment and assault to a third party and make sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

'I Am Vanessa Guillen Act' Press Conference
Congresswoman Jackie Speier(D-CA) and Veronica Escobar(D-TX) alongside Vanessa Guillen Family during a press conference about The I Am Vanessa Guillen Act introduced in Congress, NurPhoto

"Military leadership has repeatedly failed to reduce sexual harassment, sexual assault, and violent crime at Fort Hood, one of the worst sites for attacks according to Army officials, and throughout the armed forces," Spier said in a statement. "The endless cycle of harassment, assault, and retaliation for those who speak out reveals the deep roots of a toxic culture we must eradicate so that survivors are taken seriously and treated with respect, and assailants are held accountable."

Mullin said the issue of sexual assault and harassment in the military is a bipartisan issue. 

"We must strengthen the military's ability to protect its most important resource, which is the people who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans," he said in a statement. 

The bill also moves prosecution decisions on sexual assault and harassment outside of the chain of command to an office of the chief prosecutor within each branch of military service. 

Following a meeting with Guillén's family, Pelosi said Congress "remains heartbroken and outraged" at the murder of the U.S. Army specialist. She said there would be a House floor vote on the bill. 

"Justice is needed for Vanessa, and for the many service members facing an epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in our armed forces, too often in the shadows," Pelosi said in a statement.

Spier said in a news conference that the bill would be put to a vote "either in the next few weeks or it will be in November." 

Guillén's youngest sister, Lupe, delivered emotional remarks at the news conference.

"Vanessa Guillén fought for us and now, it's time to fight for her," she said. 

During a meeting at the White House in late July, President Trump voiced support for an investigation into Guillén's murder. One of her sisters said Mr. Trump is supporting the bill. 

Guillén's remains were found about two months after she disappeared in April. She was allegedly killed by a fellow soldier, Specialist Aaron Robinson, who later died by suicide

Guillén's family claims that she told family members, friends and colleagues at work about being sexually harassed by her superiors on two different occasions, but Army officials have denied any link between the sexual harassment allegations and Guillén's disappearance. An attorney for the family has also claimed Guillén was harassed by Robinson. 

Her death inspired other service members to share their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment on social media with the hashtag, #IamVanessaGuillen. 

Earlier this month, the Army named a four-star general to investigate how leadership at Fort Hood handled Guillén's reports of sexual harassment and her disappearance. The probe is separate from an independent review of Fort Hood's command climate. 

Victoria Albert contributed to this report. 

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