At Hearing on Navy & Marine Corps Budget, Murray Presses Secretary on Child Abuse Allegations at Child Development Centers; Reiterates Need to Pass Supplemental


***WATCH: Senator Murray’s opening comments and questioning of Secretary Carlos Del Toro***


Washington, D.C. — Today—at a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Navy and Marine Corps—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, discussed how important it is we invest not only in equipment but, critically, in the brave servicemembers in the Navy and Marine Corps—and their families—who help keep our country safe.


In opening comments, Senator Murray also reiterated the need to pass the national security supplemental that has been stalled in the House for several months, stating:


“Thank you very much to my Vice Chair, and Chair Tester, and thank you to our witnesses for joining us—and for your service to our country. 


“At a time when we know some of our adversaries are making significant investments in their navies, we have to keep pace, and maintain strong investments for our Navy and Marine Corps.


“And that doesn’t just mean equipment!


“We have to invest in our men and women in uniform—getting them adequate training and equipment and making sure their families have support like child care, mental health care, safe, quality housing, and a lot more.


“And while we discuss what’s needed for the Navy and Marine Corps in FY25, I can’t neglect to mention that we must also finish the job on FY24 by passing the national security supplemental ASAP.


“Iran’s attacks over the weekend are a very stark reminder of the precarious moment that we are in, the pressing challenges we and our allies face across the globe—including the risk of further escalation of hostilities in the Middle East—and of the urgent need to pass the national security supplemental.


“It is critical we act, that we stand with our allies, that we deter escalation and more conflict—and of course, we know that American support can turn the tide for the war in Ukraine.


“For months, I have been insisting we pass a comprehensive and bipartisan national security supplemental I wrote with many of you who are here in this room, so I’m glad that the Speaker now seems to be moving in that direction.


“I look forward to working with Chairman Cole, Vice Chair Collins, ranking Member DeLauro to make this a reality.


“After so many months of needless delay from House Republicans, we’ve got to get this done. We need to get it right—as everyone in the room knows, the details matter—and show the world that there is bipartisan support to stand with our allies.”


Senator Murray pressed Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro about disturbing new reporting about incidents of child abuse by staff at military Child Development Centers—including on Navy installations— stating:


“Mr. Secretary, last week, reporting from Military.com revealed deeply disturbing accounts of child abuse by Child Development Center employees at Navy installations.


“The investigation found that Navy rules prioritize protecting the institution, keep parents in the dark, and have minimal safeguards to guarantee accountability.


“According to the reporting, base commanders and military police units often don't know who is responsible for reporting and investigating abuse at CDCs. And in one case, it took a full year before workers responsible for abuse were charged in a civilian court.


“The reporters interviewed a dozen families with similar stories of not being told when their child was injured, and in many cases, parents shouldered hefty legal bills to force the military branches to tell them what happened. I cannot emphasize enough how concerning and unacceptable that is.


“So, Mr. Secretary, I want to know: what is the Navy doing to investigate these reports and ensure those responsible are held accountable?”


Secretary Del Toro replied, in part, that “there is no greater priority than the safety of our service men and women in uniform and the civilians that actually use those CDCs as well too.” He noted that in the 2022 case mentioned, law enforcement was promptly informed and the director was fired, alongside others, and added: “I assure you that moving forward, we have learned the lessons from that case. From both those cases, and ensuring the highest levels of standards, of security and care for our CDCs, throughout the entire department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.”


Senator Murray pressed Secretary Del Toro on what he’s doing to ensure nothing like this happens again and whether trainings are happening to address the unacceptable instances of abuse. She noted she is following the response by the Navy very closely and expects full accountability, making clear: “Men and women in uniform can only do their jobs if they know their kids are ok.”


Senator Murray also asked Secretary Del Toro about the Navy’s efforts to ensure adequate health care services are available at the Naval Hospital Bremerton in Kitsap County, Washington, as the facility is faced with a provider shortage combined with an increase in service members seeking care. She also asked Secretary Del Toro for an update on how the Navy is working to address seismic issues at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, noting that last year Congress approved $195 million to address the electrical backbone and provided $130 million over the President’s budget request to address the seismic concerns at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.