Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2015

Senate Blocks Gillibrand’s Military Sexual-Assault Bill (Updated) (Video)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:04 p.m. | The Senate narrowly blocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill to remove prosecutorial decisions for military sexual assaults and other felonies from the chain of command.

The measure failed to advance on a 55-45 vote, five short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate. Seventeen of the chamber’s 20 women voted aye, while men opposed the measure 42-38.

Senators on both sides of the debate — which has not split along party lines — knew the vote on the New York Democrat’s legislation would be close. Gillibrand said earlier Thursday morning that she was “hopeful” her side would have the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster hurdle.

“Today too many … members of the Senate have turned their back on these victims and survivors,” of sexual assault, Gillibrand said. “As painful as today’s vote is, our struggle on behalf of these brave men and women will go on.”

Gillibrand said she thinks her effort will continue to gain momentum going forward, though she noted that a couple of senators who had co-sponsored her measure voted against cloture.

That’s a reference to Delaware Democrat Thomas R. Carper and Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk. Fellow Navy man Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., could be seen with Kirk in the well of the chamber during the vote, and McCain could be heard saying “Anchors Aweigh,” the title of the Naval Academy fight song.

Republicans Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming apparently hadn’t publicly committed, but voted with Gillibrand.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has vast experience as a military lawyer, said a vote in favor of the Gillibrand proposal could come back to haunt to GOP presidential aspirants in the Senate.

“People wanting to run for president on our side, I will remind you of this vote. You want to be commander in chief? You told me a a lot today about who you are as commander in chief,” Graham said. “You were willing to fire every commander in the military for reasons I don’t quite understand. So we will have a good conversation as to whether or not you understand how the military actually works.”

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are among the possible 2016 contenders who expressed vocal support for Gillibrand’s plan.

Shortly before the voting started, Gillibrand rejected the idea that the trust many senators have for superior officers in the armed forces is relevant if victims of sexual abuse do not share that trust and therefore do not report attacks.

Gillibrand supporter Sen. Barbara Boxer expressed a similar sentiment.

“I know that Sen. McCaskill is trying to fix these problems around the edges. Fine, but let’s get to the heart of the matter,” the California Democrat said. “We can continue the 20 years of baloney and not make the change that needs to be made.”

New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte has led the effort against Gillibrand’s plan, along with pushing an alternate proposal with Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Ahead of the vote, Ayotte said the onus was on Gillibrand to get 60 votes, but she was “optimistic” the Senate would reject it. Gillibrand had 55 senators expressing public support leading up to the vote, including recently appointed Montana Democrat John Walsh.

Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, is among the supporters of Gillibrand’s proposal. Durbin said Thursday morning he had not whipped the measure, however.

Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin has been outspoken in support of the proposal offered by McCaskill and Ayotte and is staunchly against the Gillibrand measure.

“These additional protections in the McCaskill-Ayotte bill help us answer the key question: How can we best strengthen our protections against military sexual assault? We do so by empowering victims and by holding our commanders accountable. But we threaten to weaken those protections if we undermine the authority of the very commanders who must be at the heart of the solution,” the Michigan Democrat said. “Powerful evidence should lead us to the conclusion that we should not remove the authority of commanders to prosecute these cases.”

“More than anything, the victims of sexual assaults, the survivors, need to have the confidence that the legal system in which they reported crime will produce a just and fair result. We need to encourage more reporting, and that is what Sen. Gillibrand’s bill will accomplish,” Republican Susan Collins of Maine said.

McCaskill and Ayotte outlined the findings of the Response Systems Panel, which rejected the idea of removing the convening authority in alleged sexual-assault cases from the chain of command. They also noted changes already made with the fiscal 2014 defense authorization law.

“It is clear that right now we have more cases going to court-martial over the objections of prosecutors than the objections of commanders,” McCaskill said during floor debate. “Today there is a court-martial ongoing where a prosecutor walked away from the serious charges and the commander said go forward.”

The legislation from McCaskill, Ayotte and Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer flew over the cloture hurdle, securing all 100 votes, but it will be held over for final passage until Monday due to what Ayotte described as a misunderstanding.

McCaskill, Ayotte and Fischer were the only three women in the Senate to oppose the Gillibrand measure.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

  • MiltonDValler

    GOP escalates their was against women.

    • RBT1

      You did read the article, right?

      • Chuck Pelto

        RE: Reading/Comprehension Problems of MiltonDValler

        No. He obviously didn’t.

        But that’s typical of Progressive-Liberals.

        In this case, it probably relates to his recent graduation from the vaunted American public education system….where they don’t teach English anymore.

    • MrNewCastrati


  • Thad Puckett

    Democrat controlled Senate escalates war on women.

    • Kansan

      No, only one Democratic woman voted against the measure. Can’t you count?

      • drakejr

        The Point >>>>>>>

        Your Head

        • Kansan

          The point?

          Have you ever had one, save in your own mind?

          I see you’re engaged in nerdathons, posting a dozen times or so in the last week on various sites about Xboxes,

          You even advise your gramps and granny on the use of that time waster. I’m sure they appreciate the input. Do you wear short pants?

          Hair on your hands? How’s things in yo’ mama’s basement?

          • drakejr

            You really stalked through my comment history (and selectively reported back a subset of posts) because you were so upset that I caught you in a moment of stupidity? Pathetic.

            Even then you failed on reading comprehension because you missed the part where I describe letting my parents see their grandchildren. I’m so sorry that modern technology, much like wit, social grace, and decency are lost on you and that you have to dismiss it out of hand.

          • Kansan

            I’m sure you don’t want me to recapitulate the nasty things you’ve said to virtually everyone to whom you’ve responded in the past week or two.

            I’d go easy when using words like “stupidity,” and “pathetic.” I really don’t think you want to go there, opening those cans of worms.

            When psychiatrists evaluate those presenting serious symptoms, one thing they do is to ask the meanings of aphorisms. It quickly teases out the concrete thinkers.

            Let’s try one, okay?

            What does, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” mean?

          • drakejr

            Sorry, I don’t entertain internet stalkers.

            Though I’m glad you are spending enough time with psychiatrists to know their methods. Hopefully they will adjust your medications. Clearly, something is off.

          • Kansan

            I have to agree. You are certainly “sorry,” nerdboy.

            However, the time I’ve spent with psychiatrists has been as a long-retired clinician and program director, working with mentally ill, substance abusers, ex-offenders, etc.

            So I have a very well-tuned nutcase detector, which is why I’m on your odious, overcompensating case.

      • MrNewCastrati

        Those percentage calculations really add impact LOL..

      • Thad Puckett

        One sentence is a rant?

        • Kansan

          How many Obamacare rants have you posted in the last month or so? You sound like a full-time bought and paid for Kochbot. Here you’ve made a comment about “war on women” that stands the truth on its head, as you tout the Misogynist party. I’m guessing you’re one of those evangelistic “Christians” who don’t mind indulging in a little “heavenly deception.”

          • Thad Puckett

            One sentence here is a rant? What is a Kochbot?

          • Kansan

            You’re trying to divert from my observation.
            You’re constantly ranting about the Affordable Care Act, among other things. It would threaten your “Christian” business, if costs were reined in, would it not?
            You know that it’s not Democrats who have been waging a war on women. In your home town, “voter I.D.” laws meant to disenfranchise minorities, students, etc., have passed and cost tens of thousands of women their voting rights.

    • Chuck Pelto

      RE: Heh

      You had better read my comment (above).

    • Stephen Barlow


  • anilpetra

    More evidence that Democrat triggering of the Nuclear Option is a big backfire.

    Now, a few remaining moderate Northeastern and Midwestern Democrats go on the record to oppose the radical Left.

    Wasn’t this a House of Cards episode?

  • gridlock2

    Every Republican who votes for this poison pill legislation forces a Democrat to line up against Gillibrand and vote against it. Because even the Democratic Party is not willing to gut our military just for fun-sies.

    Gillibrand looks like a fool in all this. Appearances are not deceiving, in this case.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: All
    RE: It Is Good

    Military commanders, under the auspices of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), should have the authority to try and, if necessary, punish criminal offenses committed by military personnel on federal property or in theaters of operations.

    This effort by a feminist was a direct attack on that authority. That authority which is essential to lead soldiers in combat. And it was because the feminists did not like some decisions by commanders about courts martial that didn’t turn out the way the feminists wanted them to turn out.


    [Feminists don’t give a dang about justice. They just want their way.]

    • SGT Ted

      Feminism is a sexist Supremacy Movement. That’s the key to understanding how they operate and their goals.

    • Duane M Hulbert

      Until the commander is the one causing the assault or has a conflict of interest with someone who committed the assault. which is how it is a majority of the time. Commanders should not have the power when it comes to sexual assault.

      • Chuck Pelto

        RE: The Commander Is the Problem?

        You obviously have clue about the military.

        Even commanders have commanders. All the way up to the Commander-In-Chief, a.k.a., the President of the United States.

        And the commander’s commander has an Inspector General who will investigate any allegation of sexual harassment.

        • Heather Baker-Aldridge

          The commander is taken out of the equation when it is an alleged sexual assault (i.e rape.) Sorry, but a commander may be able to handle a harassment, but that is about it, and even then I think the “chain of command” should be taken out of it. Military personnel are intimidated by their chain of command, which is why the federal agencies don’t wear their rank (at least AFOSI) When it involves physical evidence the commander is NOT qualified or trained to handle the case. Period. Military personnel should feel safe reporting injustices. The chain of command does not offer that.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Another Ignorant Person Speaks

            The commander in question is taken out of the link when there is a charge of sexual harassment or assault against him/her. The next higher command takes responsibility for the investigation and, if necessary, prosecution. That includes having the Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, Article 31 Hearing, e.g., Grand Jury for the Military, etc., etc., etc.

            Or, would you please tell all of US YOUR experience in the Armed Forces of the United States.

            Mine is 27 years in the infantry, starting out as a slick-sleeve private and retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

          • Heather Baker-Aldridge

            AFOSI Agent, AF is my experience. Your experience is impressive, and your work ethic phenomenal to be able to go from the bottom of the ranks to the top, but I don’t believe that changes what I expressed in my comment. I have conducted many (alleged/proven) sexual assault investigations and many were intimidated to come forward due to fear of the chain of command, be it false belief that they would get in trouble, etc. A majority of my experience in this arena, was basic training students allegations against recruiters or instructors, and came to us by way of others they had told because they were too afraid to come forward themselves. My point was (as I re-read what I wrote, was not very clear) the only role the commander had in our cases (once referred or reported to us) would be to receive briefs, updates, etc. to the case, but the investigative work etc, is done by others, they had no role whatsoever. And in the case of AFOSI, we fall under the IG, therefore the chain of command is out of the equation. I think in a sense we are saying the same thing, but my expression is lacking, There is a threshold that is met where the chain of command for the individual is not involved. Not trying to be nasty or fluff out my chest, and make demeaning comments to others, sorry if it was taken that way.

        • Duane M Hulbert

          I understand how it works. However, I go off facts. Watch the Invisible War. You would be surprised by the number of people who get away with sexual assault because of People in the Chain of Command up to the First Commander. They blow it off as hearsay or lies. And these people committing the sexual assault do it over and over without ever getting in trouble. I’ve seen it first hand. And was even part of an investigation against someone who was let off the hook. The victim had to accept it. Her hands were basically tied. And he went back doing what he does. While she asked for a seperation for fear of being reprimanded in the future.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Facts?

            You haven’t got a clue. Let alone facts.

            Cite the case you describe.

  • MrJest

    What civilians don’t understand is that, to a large part, the military exists outside of the Constitution and American civilian society. It is entirely appropriate that ALL matters of military crime be handled within the military; since many jobs they are expected to do (i.e. – kill people) are considered crimes in a civilian context.

    Note the military reserves the right to turn a miscreant over to civilian justice after military justice has been imposed; the military is the only place a citizen can lawfully face “double jeopardy”. Don’t believe me? Try driving drunk on an army base. You’ll get to serve time in both military and civilian prisons! Whee!!

  • Rick Caird

    You either trust your military or you don’t. If you think there is some exception for sex, then there must be other exceptions and you are explicitly saying you do not trust the military. That is a bad position to attempt to defend.

  • SGT Ted

    This is an attempt to make women service members special snowflakes with extra rules to protect them that exclude men from the same protections. The bill is an attempt to codify female supremacy into the law.

    • Chuck Pelto

      RE: Special Rules of Protection for Women Only

      Just like what is going on in the realm of higher education.

  • FarmBoy11B

    “Democrats block sex assault bill”
    There, fixed the headline for you.

  • Diggsc

    If it’s a bill sponsored by a Democrat, you can rest assured that it’s designed to hurt the military. Democrat lawmakers HATE the military as much as they hate the Second Amendment, or the Koch Brothers. Yeah, they want to sound all soothing to the female servicemembers, but they hate them only just a little less than they hate the male servicemembers. Just remember this, as our enemies build up, Obama and the Democrats are forcing a reduction in the armed forces. Who do you think is going to bear the brunt of that reduction? Welfare recipients? Georgetown Law graduates that need free contraception? Felons? San Franciscan Limousine Liberals? Hollywood Phonies? Nope, not a single Democrat Party voter will be hurt. But the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that stand on the wall will all pay a price.
    Hope and Change, Baby! Hope. And. Change.

  • Oscar’s Wilde
  • Stephen Barlow

    NO American service woman should be at risk. EVER!!!! Because ofthe massive failure of the DOD on this issue, I think the ENTIRE issue should be taken out of the Military courts entirely. BECAUSE of the CHRONIC FAILURES of the DOD, let’s privatized RAPE PROSECUTIONS into Federal Court.

    Let’s also make obstruction in these cases as 10 year Federal Felony. Mandatory minimum sentence.

    Wanna get down to the truth in these cases? Put the Commanders in the same shoes as the co conspirators.

    • Duane M Hulbert

      I agree with you 100%. These men who say otherwise must not have daughters or known someone who was assaulted in the military. Hell, I knew a guy who sexually assaulted many women in the military (didn’t know at the time) and he walked away from it a free man, didn’t lose rank and it was because he was buddy buddy with a commander handling the investigation. Those women and that one male he assaulted are mentally scarred for life and a couple are physically scarred.

      • Stephen Barlow

        Most commander’s will cover up to preserve their career, their record and promotion possibilities. Boys will be boys” is more true in the service than anywhere else. The girls need to “man up” if they want a “man’s” job.

  • Liberals are Bolsheviks

    Here we find even more criticism of Hussein Obama bubbling up from liberal circles these days:

  • stevewfromford

    Kirsten Gillibrand is a grandstanding idiot whose proposed legislation would severely damage military discipline and likely result in LESS prosecutions for sexual assault. She doesn’t care about damaging the military she despises and has no clue about the effect that her legislation will actually have. Removing control by the chain of command is a terrible idea that not only damages military discipline it will cause military prosecutors, who will now decide who or what crimes to prosecute to make this decision on a very different basis than a commander might and this change will lead to less prosecutions for these accusations.

  • Heather Baker-Aldridge

    This makes me so angry. There is much fear in young airman, soldiers, seaman to start with that is instilled during boot camp about their superiors. This is no issue for the chain of command to handle or investigate….It is a crime that should be handled by CID, AFOSI, NCIS.

    • Chuck Pelto


      Try not to be totally ignorant and proud of it.

      Those groups WORK FOR COMMANDERS. Usually installation level commanders. And those commander sics them on criminal investigations.

      • HBA

        Deleted my other comments as they were novels, and don’t want to argue semantics. My experience is as a Special Agent. I have not seen a Commander administer punishment on a felony so in a sense, after thinking about it, I am wondering where this comes from to start with, at least in the AF. There is a wide range of punishments under the UCMJ Commanders take action on, but felonies should not be one of them. The accused and accuser deserve their day in court. I have had cases where the allegations of sexual assault were disproven, and turned out to be consensual improper relationships, or adultery. Those went back to the Commander for discipline, as they should. Felonies, never. And, I would further say, this law would also protect men, I did have a case where a female was accused and convicted.

  • Rebecca Griffin

    It’s disappointing to see so many senators, especially Democrats, taking the Pentagon’s word for it that they can deal with this problem with such a terrible record. I hope they keep pushing on this. I wrote more about it, including the roll call of votes, here:

  • The truth is that …

    In a somewhat related article we find esteemed journalist Bob Woodward calling out our resident marxist agitator as a delusional mad-man:

  • coffeeHouse1982

    In this YouTube video we have a dangerously delusional Barack Obama claiming that he will magically slow the rise of the oceans and impel the earth to heal:

  • not@sheep

    You cannot remove a Commander’s authority to discipline soldiers…bottom line

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    This a really nice article! I couldn’t wait to cshare it with my friends. Wow, just wow!

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