Senate Rejects Gillibrand Sexual Assault Bill

The Senate rejected a controversial bill that would have removed commanders’ power to prosecute sexual assaults, opting instead to push forward different legislation that provides special counsel to victims but keeps such authority in the chain of command. The vote on the first bill, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, was 55-to-45, five short of the 60 needed, reported Reuters. “I always hoped we could do the right thing here and deliver a military justice system that is free from bias and conflict of interest; a military justice system that is worthy of the brave men and women who fight for us,” said Gillibrand in a March 6 statement. “As painful as today’s vote is, our struggle on behalf of the brave men and women who serve in our military will go on.” The Senate unanimously voted to proceed with the second bill, sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a former sex crimes prosecutor, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and is expected to vote on that bill Monday, reported Reuters. “This debate has been about one thing, getting the policy right to best protect and empower victims, and boost prosecutions of predators,” said McCaskill in her own statement. “I believe we’re on the cusp of achieving that goal.” (See also Competing Amendments and Attacking Sexual Assaults.)