House Armed Services Committee Passes Cummings Provisions to Increase Diversity and Curb Hazing in Armed Forces

May 10, 2012
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, the House Armed Services Committee passed legislation that includes two provisions authored by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and other Members to enhance diversity and eliminate hazing in the military.

“It is critical that Congress do everything in our power to promote a highly qualified and diverse officer corps that truly represents our nation, and these provisions are an essential step toward achieving this goal,” said Cummings.

Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes the Military Leaders Enhancement Act (H.R. 2186), legislation originally authored by Cummings.

The bill would provide $5 million for the armed services to develop a comprehensive plan on diversity, determine metrics to measure progress, and provide an annual report to Congress.  It would also require the Defense Department to develop a standardized definition of diversity and provide demographic data on women and minorities in the military.  The bill was introduced as an amendment by Reps. Johnson, Sanchez, and Reyes in the House Armed Services Committee.

The NDAA also includes a provision originally introduced by Reps. Chu, Cummings, and Honda as part of The Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act of 2012.  

This provision would require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive plan to prevent hazing and a national database to track hazing incidents.  It would also direct the Secretary to submit recommendations to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Manual for Courts Martial to improve efforts to address hazing incidents.

“We must do all we can to eradicate hazing from our armed services and ensure that our servicemembers are held to the highest standards,” said Cummings. “This legislation will put in place key measures to curb hazing and hold accountable those who commit such heinous acts.”

Cummings has been a strong advocate for diversity in the military and Coast Guard for many years.  In 2009, Cummings joined Senator Ben Cardin and other Members to establish the Military Leadership Diversity Commission in order to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the policies related to the promotion of women and minorities in the armed services. 

A recent forum co-hosted by Cummings, Cardin, and the Chairs of the Tri-Caucus revealed that the armed services had failed to fully implement 14 out of 19 of the Commission’s recommendations. 

The full House is expected to consider the NDAA next week.

112th Congress