Gillibrand Anticipates Filibuster Threat Over Military Sexual-Assault Amendment

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (2nd L) speaks as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (R) and military sexual assault victim Ariana Klay (L), a former Marine officer assigned to the prestigious Marine Barracks Washington and subsequently served in Iraq, listen during a news conference November 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
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Stacy Kaper
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Stacy Kaper
Nov. 6, 2013, 10:33 a.m.

It’s not every day that con­ser­vat­ive Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., stand shoulder to shoulder with lib­er­als Sens. Bar­bara Box­er, D-Cal­if., and Richard Blu­menth­al, D-Conn. But they did Wed­nes­day, ral­ly­ing be­hind an ef­fort from Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand, D-N.Y., to com­bat mil­it­ary sexu­al as­saults by tak­ing the de­cision of wheth­er to pro­sec­ute out of the chain of com­mand.

Gil­librand says she has been prom­ised she will get a vote on her bill in the form of an amend­ment to the de­fense-au­thor­iz­a­tion bill, which could hit the Sen­ate floor as soon as next week.

But suc­ceed­ing is seen as un­likely. The Pentagon and Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee lead­ers adam­antly op­pose the re­form. Gil­librand is ask­ing to only have to meet a simple ma­jor­ity of 51 votes, ar­guing her amend­ment is ger­mane, but she ex­pects that one of her op­pon­ents — likely Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C. — would threaten to fili­buster, for­cing a 60-vote re­quire­ment for pas­sage.

“I think Lind­sey Gra­ham said he would do any­thing to de­feat this amend­ment. I sus­pect he would feel com­fort­able do­ing it. I also think [Sen. James] In­hofe would,” Gil­librand said, after hold­ing a press con­fer­ence to high­light the is­sue.

Gil­librand said she is lob­by­ing un­de­cided mem­bers, try­ing to get op­pon­ents to change their mind, and ask­ing her sup­port­ers to also reach out to col­leagues one on one. “We have a lot of un­de­cided mem­bers, and we have a lot of un­de­cided mem­bers who are lean­ing with us. So al­though we have 46 stated sup­port­ers, I think we will have many, many more,” she said. “We will try to meet the chal­lenge of either 51 or 60, and I’m con­fid­ent we will.”

For his part, Paul said he was tar­get­ing a group of key Re­pub­lic­ans to try to bring on board. “We need a few more Re­pub­lic­ans. I’ve got a list of Re­pub­lic­ans I’m talk­ing to,” Paul said. “We need prob­ably eight more Re­pub­lic­ans and a few more Demo­crats. But I think there is a lot of mo­mentum.”

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