U.S. Senate passes military sexual assault bill

By Kyle Johnson,

The U.S. Senate passed Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill's military sexual assault bill on Monday, though now it heads to the House where it has been indicated it will sit for awhile.

The measure easily passed a 97-0 vote, but both Republican and Democratic aides have said a vote in the House likely won't come until late in the year, reports Reuters. Part of the reason for delay is supporters looking for the best way to get it to pass, with one possibility of it being attached to the Pentagon spending bill.

A Democratic aide said, "Right now we're looking at the most likely vehicle for getting it passed in the House, which is probably as an amendment to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act."

The bill makes a few changes to how military sexual assault cases are handled, such as having prosecutors more involved in pushing commanders to take up cases as well as doing away with the "good soldier" defense, which saw sentences for defendants lightened if they had a good military career.

The bill was chosen in place of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's, which saw heavy opposition, as previously reported. The measure was narrowly defeated as there was not enough support to beat a filibuster, losing by five votes.

One part of the bill that saw opposition was where military commanders where stripped of the involvement in sexual assault cases, since Gillibrand argued that victims were afraid of retaliation from higher up the chain of command.

Allegedly, it was argued, if commanders lose that right, they will have their command weakened, which could hurt their ability to control troops.

image: By United States Senate [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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