House lawmakers passed a piece of legislation that would impose tougher punishments for military members convicted in sexual assault cases.
The $638 billion defense bill, with passed Friday in a 315-108 vote would require a mandatory minimum two-year sentence for those convicted in a military court.
Last year, as many as 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted. The grim statistics prompted lawmakers to take steps to address the problem.
"This is a self-inflicted wound that has no place in the military," Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both legs and partial use of an arm in Iraq, said during Friday's debate.
Lawmakers say they want to put an end to epidemic of sexual assault among service members and create an environment where victims aren't afraid to come forward.