Vets Bill Goes Down as Military Sexual-Assault Bills Come Up

Angry over process, Republicans withhold votes needed to get vets bill to the floor.

U.S. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) covers his face during a 2009 hearing. Sanders is considering introducing a bill that would end liability limits for the nuclear power industry in the event of a disaster.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
Add to Briefcase
Stacy Kaper
Feb. 27, 2014, 7:37 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans scuttled a $21 bil­lion vet­er­ans’ pack­age in the Sen­ate on Thursday, but have agreed to al­low com­pet­ing mil­it­ary sexu­al-as­sault bills to move to the floor for votes.

The vet­er­ans’ bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Ver­mont in­de­pend­ent, went down on a pro­ced­ur­al vote 56-41 be­cause Re­pub­lic­ans, denied the abil­ity to of­fer amend­ments, with­held the votes needed to get it to the floor.

Mean­while, long-stalled votes on com­pet­ing mil­it­ary sexu­al-as­sault le­gis­la­tion offered by Demo­crat­ic Sens. Kirsten Gil­librand of New York and Claire Mc­Caskill of Mis­souri are fi­nally ex­pec­ted to ad­vance.

After Re­pub­lic­ans ob­jec­ted to mov­ing for­ward with the bills earli­er in the week, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell struck a deal late Wed­nes­day to ex­ped­ite de­bate and al­low the meas­ures to pro­ceed as early as next week.

The Gil­librand bill would re­form the mil­it­ary justice sys­tem by strip­ping com­mand­ers of the power to de­cide which sexu­al-as­sault cases are pro­sec­uted. Gil­librand has 55 votes lined up for her bill and could man­age to pass it if she can find 60 votes needed to get the le­gis­la­tion to the floor.

Mc­Caskill’s bill in­cludes a host of non­con­tro­ver­sial re­forms, in­clud­ing dis­al­low­ing a sol­dier’s good mil­it­ary char­ac­ter to be con­sidered in the de­fense of a sexu­al as­sault and meas­ures to make it easi­er for vic­tims to chal­lenge un­fair dis­charges from the ser­vice.

The Sanders bill ex­pands vet­er­ans’ be­ne­fits in edu­ca­tion and health care, and it would re­verse a cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment on mil­it­ary re­tir­ees’ pen­sions that was in­cluded in last year’s budget deal. Vet­er­ans’ groups strongly sup­port the le­gis­la­tion, and some cried foul at the closed pro­cess for com­plic­at­ing its chances.

Re­pub­lic­ans op­posed the bill’s off­set, which re­lied on sav­ings from the draw­down of the wars in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan and wanted to of­fer al­tern­at­ives. But among their wish list was a vote on Ir­an sanc­tions, which Re­id said was not rel­ev­ant to the bill and would not be al­lowed.

“The Amer­ic­an Le­gion would very much like to have seen Re­id open up the bill to amend­ments, to help the bill get through the pro­cess,” said Louis Celli, a le­gis­lat­ive dir­ect­or with the group. “We would op­pose non-ger­mane amend­ments like Ir­an, but this par­tis­an­ship and games­man­ship has got to stop so that Amer­ic­an people can get the laws back that we need to help vet­er­ans.”

What We're Following See More »
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
EMERGING BUDGET FRAMEWORK?
Dems Proposes Obamacare-for-Defense Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."

Source:
WHITE HOUSE BLOCKING DOC REQUEST
Michael Flynn Remains A Russian-Sized Problem
1 days ago
BREAKING

The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.

Source:
SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING
Sally Yates to Testify on May 8
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MESSAGE TO PUTIN
U.S. To Conduct Exercises In Estonia
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login