WASHINGTON - The Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would make big changes in the military justice system to deal with sexual assault.
The vote was 97-0 on Monday. The measure would scrap the nearly century-old practice of using a "good soldier defense" to raise doubts that a crime has been committed.
The bipartisan bill was written by three female senators -- Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
It would impose a half-dozen changes as Congress tries to combat the pervasive problem of rape and sexual offenses that Pentagon leaders have likened to a cancer within the ranks.
The House could act on the bill as a stand-alone measure or incorporate it into a larger defense bill in the spring.