WASHINGTON — Congressional efforts to combat sexual assault in the military secured the support of the Obama administration as senior White House officials met privately Thursday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
Outrage over the Pentagon's latest estimates on sexual assaults and two recent cases of officers overturning convictions have injected new energy into efforts to rewrite decades-old laws for the military.
"I feel that there is positive momentum on this issue," said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, a participant in the White House meeting and co-sponsor of legislation.
Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama's senior adviser, Tina Tchen, chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, and other senior officials met with 16 Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate — 14 female lawmakers and two men, Turner and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.
Jarrett chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Tchen is executive director. Obama has said he has no tolerance for the problem and that the Pentagon must address it head-on.
The White House requested the meeting, and lawmakers expressed appreciation for the administration's outreach in what they expect will be a collaborative effort.