Gillibrand’s Sexual Assault Bill Facing Long Odds

The measure hit a setback in the annual defense authorization bill, but the Democrat vows to keep trying.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks at a news conference supporting passage of the Military Justice Improvement Act November 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The legislation would help address increasing numbers of sexual assaults in the U.S. military by establishing an independent military justice system. Also pictured are (L-R) Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-NY), former U.S. Marine Sarah Plummer, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and U.S. Army veteran Kate Weber.
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 11, 2013, 6:27 a.m.

Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand’s at­tempt to over­haul how the mil­it­ary handles sexu­al as­saults and oth­er ma­jor crim­in­al cases is un­likely to be in­cluded in the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act, but that doesn’t mean the New York Demo­crat is giv­ing up.

The bill is mov­ing quickly through the House and Sen­ate — a ne­ces­sity if Con­gress plans to pass the meas­ure be­fore year’s end — and one bi­par­tis­an pro­pos­al would have both cham­bers passing a bill without amend­ments.

Still, the New York Demo­crat’s of­fice still be­lieves her pro­pos­al will find its way to the Sen­ate floor. “We are con­fid­ent that we will get a vote,” said Beth­any Less­er, Gil­librand’s com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or.

Gil­librand told News­day that Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id — who has come out in sup­port of the pro­pos­al —  has “guar­an­teed” a floor vote. Last month, the sen­at­or filed her amend­ment as a stand alone bill un­der the Sen­ate’s Rule 14, which al­lows it to skip the com­mit­tee pro­cess.

But with the sen­at­ors fa­cing a short and busy sched­ule be­fore they leave for the Christ­mas re­cess, it is likely Gil­librand’s stand alone bill wouldn’t be brought to the floor be­fore Janu­ary, at the earli­est.

Lead­ers on the House and Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tees in­tro­duced a bill earli­er this week aimed at get­ting the an­nu­al de­fense bill passed by the end of the year. That le­gis­la­tion does not in­clude Gil­librand’s amend­ment.


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