Senator Kristen Gillibrand, along with Senators Chuck Grassley, and Barbara Boxer, have introduced legislation to change the structure as to how sexual assault charges are processed in the military. TEA Party favorites Rand Paul and Ted Cruz planning to assist with their fight.
Top military commanders, and ‘hawks’ in both houses, do not want change to come. But, after decades of promises not kept, and sexual assaults on the rise, many in Congress, and the American public, believe it is time for a drastic change.
Gillibrand’s plan would eliminate the right of military commanders to decide how and if a case will be prosecuted. She would remove that option, and give it to military prosecutors. The military brass does not want a ‘break’ in the chain of command.
“Sen. Paul believes that the vast majority of our service members are honorable and upstanding individuals,” said Paul spokesman Moira Bagley said in an email. “In the instance when one is accused of a serious crime, especially one of harassment or assault, the allegation needs to be taken seriously and conflicts of interest should not impact whether a crime is prosecuted properly.”
Ted Cruz joined Paul:
“Several of our strongest allies such as Israel, the United Kingdom, and Germany have made similar reforms to their military justice systems, and seen marked improvement,” Cruz said in the statement. He also commended Gillibrand for her efforts to “modernize” the forces.
Advocates believe the new supporters could boost the vote count.
“The senator being fully on board kind of opens up possibilities,” said a Senate Democratic aide working on defense issues. “It doesn’t split along partisan ideology lines. It’s about folks who want to take on the status quo….It can shake up the equation.”
Paul and Cruz are not the first Republicans to join with Gillibrand. Susan Collins, Mike Johanns, Lisa Murkowski and Grassley were there at the early stages.
Gillibrand is scheduled to give a press conference Tuesday to address her proposal, which has become bipartisan. The legislation would cover sexual assault, and other major crimes which involve at least one year of incarceration.
“Our carefully crafted common sense proposal written in direct response to the experiences of those who have gone through a system rife with bias and conflict of interest is not a Democratic or Republican idea – it is just the right idea,” Gillibrand will say, according to her remarks.
She has at least 34 of the needed 51 votes for passage.
The addition of two of the leading TEA Party members will assist in passing legislation to change the process regarding the way sexual assault cases are handled in the military.
Alfred James reporting