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Senate Votes Blocked on Military Sexual Assault Reform

Senate Votes Blocked on Military Sexual Assault Reform

February 25, 2014 — Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) on Monday blocked a Senate procedural vote on two military sexual assault reform measures, arguing that the chamber should also consider a third measure on a separate issue, The Hill's "Floor Action" reports (Cox, "Floor Action," The Hill, 2/24).

In December, the Senate voted 84-15 to pass a defense authorization bill that includes several changes to how the military addresses sexual assault. However, the measure did not include a proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that would remove military cases involving crimes punishable by more than one year of confinement from the chain of command, nor did it include several additional changes proposed by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

Both senators are now promoting their proposals as individual bills (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/7).

Monday's Action

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought unanimous consent from the Senate to bypass procedural obstacles and vote on the Gillibrand and McCaskill measures after four hours of debate.

However, Moran stymied the vote by insisting that the chamber also consider a measure on sanctioning Iran. Reid refused the request, saying, "I'm terribly disappointed that my Republican friends are trying to turn this vital national security concern into a partisan issue by trying to inject [it] into a setting where it's clearly not relevant."

Gillibrand also criticized the move. "[W]hen the Senate can't even agree to debate the one reform that survivors have consistently said is needed to solve this crisis, we are telling those victims that the deck is stacked against them right here in the Senate," she said (McAuliff, Huffington Post, 2/24).

According to a Democratic aide, Reid will now have to file a motion to end debate in order to hold votes on the two measures (Samuelsohn, Politico, 2/24).