Military Sex-Assault Prosecution Reform Fails In Senate In Unusual Vote


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY came up short yesterday in her yearlong campaign to overhaul military sexual-assault policies, falling five votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster, reports Politico. The bill, which would have removed the chain of command from prosecuting sexual assaults and other major military crimes, was derailed on a 55-45 vote, closing out a chapter in a debate that divided the Senate but not along typical partisan lines. Ten Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and 2016 presidential hopefuls Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, backed Gillibrand's controversial chain-of-command bill.

That wasn't enough to overcome 10 Democratic votes against her, including prominent defense hawks like Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) also opposed the bill. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a retired Navy Reserve officer, changed his mind and voted no after hearing arguments from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) that Gillibrand's bill could force much broader changes to the World War II-era military justice system. He also said he feared having outside lawyers take over prosecuting military cases and disrupting the unique culture of the armed services. “I wanted to make sure the captain of a ship is really the captain of the whole ship,” Kirk said.

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