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Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday he supports the U.S. military removing sexual harassment and assault cases from the chain of command and instead creating "highly specialized units to handle these cases and related crimes."

The big picture: The reorganization comes amid growing criticism on Capitol Hill over the military's ineffectiveness at preventing incidences of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks, which have more than doubled in the past decade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Driving the news: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last month that he supports changes to the military justice system for sexual assault cases.

  • The Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault (IRC) on Friday published 28 recommendations and 54 sub-recommendations, including equipping leaders with data, people, resources, policy and tools to stop sexual assault and the development of a prevention workforce, according to senior administration officials.

What he's saying: "I strongly support Secretary Austin’s announcement that he is accepting the core recommendations put forward by the ... [IRC], including removing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault from the chain of command and creating highly specialized units to handle these cases and related crimes," Biden said in a statement.

  • "We need concrete actions that fundamentally change the way we handle military sexual assault and that make it clear that these crimes will not be minimized or dismissed."
  • "We will also prioritize effective prevention strategies; promote safe, healthy, and respectful climates; and improve services to address the trauma that sexual assault victims experience and to facilitate their healing and recovery."

Worth noting: "Biden's decision could take until 2023 to implement, and his Democratic administration stopped short of endorsing legislation by the leading advocate of the change in the Senate, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, whose bill would also make broader military justice reforms," Reuters writes.

Go deeper

Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former ABC producer accuses CNN's Chris Cuomo of sexual harassment

Chris Cuomo. Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Shelley Ross, a broadcast journalist and a former executive producer for ABC News, accused CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in a New York Times op-ed Friday of sexual harassment at a 2005 event while he worked for ABC.

Why it matters: The op-ed comes after the CNN anchor was implicated in a New York attorney general’s report for advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on how to handle sexual harassment accusations against him from multiple women.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.