Rep. Lynch And Oversight Committee Democrats Request Briefing On Murder Of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen

Jul 7, 2020 Issues: Committee on Oversight and Reform

Washington, D.C. —Today, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Member U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, issued the following statement after the Committee requested a briefing on the Army’s response and investigation into the disappearance and murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen:

“The emerging details about the disappearance and murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen are truly horrific, and our hearts go out to her family.  We are also deeply disturbed by reports that Specialist Guillen was sexually harassed prior to her disappearance, but according to her family, was too fearful of the professional consequences to report her concerns.  Our Committee has requested a briefing from the Army on its response to this incident, its handling of sexual harassment and assault allegations at Fort Hood, and steps Army commanders are taking to enforce a zero-tolerance policy of sexual harassment and assault in the military and specifically at Fort Hood.”

The Committee on Oversight and Reform has fought vigorously to protect government personnel and others from sexual assault and harassment:

  • Department of Education:  On February 14, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney led all Democratic Members of the Committee in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting information about a proposed rule that would encourage schools to pursue fewer investigations of sexual harassment and assault.  On June 22, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney and Democratic Members of the Committee sent a subsequent letter to Secretary DeVos demanding the Education Department produce documents relating to the rulemaking.
  • Coast Guard Academy:  On December 11, 2019, the Committee on Oversight and reform and the Committee on Homeland Security issued a joint staff report that found that Coast Guard leadership failed to promptly, thoroughly, and impartially address harassment, bullying, and retaliation allegations at the Academy and hold senior officials accountable.  That same day, the Committees held a joint hearing on the results of the investigation.  Since December 2019, the Committees have worked with the Coast Guard to ensure that the recommendations from the joint investigation are implemented.
  • National Park Service and Forest Service:  The Committee held multiple hearings with whistleblowers and Forest Service officials to examine sexual harassment and retaliation in the agency.  On February 14, 2019, a report by the Department of Agriculture Inspector General identified numerous failures by management in the Forest Service’s Region 5 to respond to and act on allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.  The Inspector General’s review followed requests from, and an investigation by, then-Chairman Elijah Cummings, Rep. Speier, and Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources.