Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Congresswoman Judy Chu wants tougher hazing language

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congresswoman Judy Chu hopes to include stronger language against military hazing in the defense appropriation bill.

Washington hasn't steered clear of the fiscal cliff, but the House of Representatives this week did approve a $633-billion defense bill. The bill contains language designed to address hazing in the military. But one Southland lawmaker says it doesn’t go far enough.

Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu of El Monte knows the effect of military hazing: her nephew committed suicide in Afghanistan after hazing from his Marine mates.

Chu pushed for strong language in the defense authorization bill, but it got diluted as the compromise bill came back from the Senate. Chu says she’s disappointed that the military is required to make a one-time only report to Congress, with no permanent database of hazing incidents, and no independent study from the Government Accountability Office. She calls the GAO study "essential, because I think that there has to be a voice outside of the military that can look at hazing as a crime and determine its consequences and determine why there’s nothing being done about it."

Chu wants data broken out along race and gender to determine whether women and minorities are prime targets for military hazing.

The Senate also approved the Defense bill late Friday afternoon.