Gillibrand’s Moment of Truth on Sexual Assault

The Democrat is getting her long sought-after vote Thursday for a measure to reshape the way the military deals with assault accusations, but she may leave the floor empty-handed.

WASHINGTON, DC -: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is still asking for votes for her military sexual assault reform. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
March 6, 2014, 7:36 a.m.

The Sen­ate is fi­nally ready to take up a con­tro­ver­sial bill from Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand aimed at fight­ing mil­it­ary sexu­al as­sault, but though the New York Demo­crat has been beg­ging party lead­er­ship for a vote on the meas­ure for months, it’s un­clear that she has the votes needed to pass it.

Gil­librand’s ma­jor hurdle re­mains con­vin­cing 60 col­leagues to vote yes on clo­ture — a pro­ced­ur­al hurdle be­fore the meas­ure would get a fi­nal vote. Gil­librand has 55 pub­licly de­clared sup­port­ers for her le­gis­la­tion, which would over­haul the mil­it­ary justice sys­tem by strip­ping com­mand­ers of the power to choose which cases are pro­sec­uted.

Gil­librand re­mains in­sist­ent she has more than 55 votes lined up and is “op­tim­ist­ic” she can get over the clo­ture hurdle, but seni­or Sen­ate aides said the vote could go either way.

Gil­librand’s of­fice is ask­ing her sup­port­ers to reach out to Re­pub­lic­ans Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Tom Coburn of Ok­lahoma, Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, Mike En­zi of Wyom­ing, Thad Co­chran of Mis­sis­sippi, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to back the le­gis­la­tion.

Oth­er sen­at­ors Gil­librand’s of­fice is ask­ing her sup­port­ers to tar­get are op­pon­ents who might be will­ing to sup­port clo­ture to al­low the bill to pass with a simple ma­jor­ity: Demo­crats Mark Warner of Vir­gin­ia, Joe Manchin of West Vir­gin­ia, Bill Nel­son of Flor­ida, Shel­don White­house of Rhode Is­land, Tim Kaine of Vir­gin­ia, and in­de­pend­ent An­gus King of Maine.

Gil­librand’s bill is widely sup­por­ted by vic­tim-ad­vocacy or­gan­iz­a­tions who have made the re­form their top pri­or­ity, but it is adam­antly op­posed by the Pentagon’s top brass, who ar­gue it would un­der­mine com­mand­ers’ abil­ity to lead.

Com­plic­at­ing Gil­librand’s bid is a rival meas­ure aimed at ad­dress­ing mil­it­ary sexu­al as­sault from Mis­souri Demo­crat Claire Mc­Caskill.

Mc­Caskill’s meas­ure, which is also ex­pec­ted to be voted on Thursday, in­cludes a pack­age of non­con­tro­ver­sial re­forms and is ex­pec­ted to pass with a wide, bi­par­tis­an ma­jor­ity.

Mc­Caskill’s re­form meas­ures would elim­in­ate a sol­dier’s good mil­it­ary char­ac­ter from be­ing con­sidered part of his de­fense. It would al­low vic­tim in­put in pro­sec­u­tions, al­low sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims to chal­lenge un­fair dis­charge from the ser­vice, make it easi­er for pro­sec­utors to re­com­mend court mar­tials for sexu­al-as­sault cases, in­crease com­mand­er ac­count­ab­il­ity, and ex­tend re­cently ad­op­ted re­forms to mil­it­ary ser­vice academies.

Mc­Caskill ar­gues her bill ad­dresses the is­sue bet­ter than Gil­librand’s, and is not sup­port­ing the rival meas­ure.

What We're Following See More »
TWO-THIRDS
Voters Want Medical Records
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Even though they dislike both of them, the American people want to know that its presidential candidates are healthy. "Nearly two-thirds of registered voters think presidential candidates should release details about their medical histories, according to a new Morning Consult poll." In the new poll, 64 percent of Americans say the candidates should release their medical reports, up nine percent from May.

Source:
OPTIMISM ABOUT STATE OF ECONOMY
Yellen Paves Way For Interest Rate Hike
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a speech Friday at the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole summit, Fed chair Janet Yellen sounded an optimistic tone about the state of the American economy, before implying that a hike in interest rates is on the horizon. The Fed "continues to anticipate that gradual increases in the federal funds rate will be appropriate over time to achieve and sustain employment and inflation near our statutory objectives," Yellen said in her address.

Source:
10 CASES
Study Finds Little Evidence of Voter Fraud
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

While politicians argue over whether or not to be worried about potential voter fraud come November, a study tells us it is not a legitimate concern. "A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls."

Source:
$7.3 MILLION IN JULY
Donations to DNC Relied on ‘Workaround’
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The Democratic National Committee's "influx of money" in July "owes in part to an unprecedented workaround of political spending limits that lets the party tap into millions of dollars more" from Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. "At least $7.3 million of the DNC’s July total originated with payments from hundreds of major donors who had already contributed the maximum $33,400 to the national committee." Those payments were "first bundled by the Hillary Victory Fund and then transferred to the state Democratic parties, which effectively stripped the donors’ names and sent the money to the DNC as a lump sum."

Source:
OFF COAST OF HAWAII
Obama Creates World’s Largest Protected Reserve
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Obama this morning "created the largest protected area on the planet Friday, by expanding a national marine monument off the coast of his native Hawaii to encompass 582,578 square miles of land and sea."

Source:
×