WASHINGTON – Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand is set to win her eight-year battle to reform the military justice system to crack down on sexual assault in the military.
Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, announced Thursday that she had secured 61 co-sponsors for her Military Justice Improvement and Prevention Act. She needed at least 60 senators to support the bill to ensure that opponents could not use a filibuster to prevent her from moving forward.
“This is a defining moment,” said Gillibrand. “Since I started working on military justice reform in 2013, we have been blocked twice by the 60-vote filibuster standard, despite a Senate majority in favor.”
The bill is now likely to be passed by both houses of Congress and become law this year, said Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa and one of the bill’s early supporters.
“It is completely unacceptable that so many of those who serve our country in uniform have faced a system that is broken,” Grassley said. “The hard work of our coalition, especially Senator Gillibrand, has brought us to the brink.”
Commanders are now deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault in the military, but Gillibrand’s bill would strip them of that duty. Under this bill, independent military prosecutors would decide when to prosecute major crimes, including rape and sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, endangerment. ‘children, child pornography and negligent homicide.