Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Reid Gets Agreement for Floor Debate on Military Sexual Assault

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate has reached a time agreement deal for holding votes on a pair of bills designed to combat sexual assault in the military, but there’s no date certain for the debate.

Under the agreement, there would be two hours of debate before the Senate would vote on a motion to limit debate on the proposal offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. That legislation would make numerous changes to the way the Pentagon handles sexual assault allegations, including removing decisions from the chain of command.

“If you listen to the survivors of these sexual traumas and sexual assaults, they will tell you what needs to be done is the decision-making has to be taken out of the chain of command in order to create transparency, and accountability, and have that decision-maker be objective,” Gillibrand said making her case Wednesday on CNN’s The Lead With Jake Tapper.

If Gillibrand’s bill fails to achieve the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, the Senate would immediately turn to a separate measure introduced by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.

McCaskill and New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte are leadings voice against the Gillibrand proposal, which they argue is unworkable and ill-advised, referencing a report by the Responses System Panel that rejected the Gillibrand proposal.

The debate will take place “at a time to be determined by me, with the concurrence of Sen. McConnell,” Reid said in the unanimous consent agreement.

The agreement comes just two days after Senate Republicans objected to Reid moving forward in the same fashion, seeking a vote on enhanced sanctions against Iran. Since then, Republicans have continued to push on the Iran sanctions issue, including it in a GOP substitute to the veterans’ legislation pending before the Senate. The catch-all amendment is spearheaded by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

On that matter, Reid on Wednesday evening made a move to limit debate and preclude the offering of amendments. He won an agreement to speed up the clock and set up procedural votes on Thursday that are highly unlikely to succeed.

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