WASHINGTON (AP) — One by one, the record number of women in the Senate spoke out about fighting sexual assault in the military.

In an unusual series of speeches, Republicans and Democrats insisted on Tuesday that it was their historic number that has forced Congress to embrace sweeping changes to the military justice system in the annual defense policy bill.

They set aside their differences over how best to prosecute attackers and focused on how their actions will help the victims. The work began with the seven women who serve on the 26-member Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said the women of the Senate have driven the issue. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state said the historic number of women on the committee helped drive the change.