Gillibrand Sexual Assault Bill Dropped From Defense Authorization Agreement

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An amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to remove the prosecution of rape from the military chain of command has been excluded from a negotiated House-Senate deal to renew the defense authorization act.

The decision to drop the amendment from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a blow to the senator’s months-long efforts to build support for the measure. But her office insists it isn’t going away and will be brought up separately in the Senate.

“We have been assured by the Majority Leader that we will get a separate vote,” Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand, told TPM. “The Senator will not go away, she will keep fighting to protect our brave men and women in uniform and to strengthen our military.”

Before Thanksgiving, Gillibrand filed her Military Justice Improvement Act as a standalone bill that can bypass committee and be fast-tracked to the floor, her office said, pointing out that “don’t ask, don’t tell” passed the same way. Her office counts 53 senators in support of the bill.

Even if the legislation passes the Senate, it would be a heavy lift in the House, especially without a vehicle like the NDAA to attach it to.

Citing the military’s notoriously poor record when it comes to cracking down on rape, Gillibrand’s bill would set up an independent prosecutor’s office to deal with sexual assault and other crimes that aren’t unique to the military.

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