“I believe we should have a vote now. It is a hallmark bill, a generational bill of shifting how we address military justice, how we build the military justice system that’s worthy of the sacrifice our men and women in the military make,” Gillibrand told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked if she thinks Schumer should bring the bill to a floor vote.
“This Memorial Day Weekend there is no better time to talk about the sacrifice the men and the women in our armed services have made for us,” the New York Democrat added.
The legislation, which was introduced last month by a bipartisan group of senators, would make significant changes to how sexual assault cases are handled, moving the decision-making power on whether to bring felony-level charges from the chain of command. But Gillibrand has been frustrated by the status of the legislation, which has remained in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Its chairman, Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said last week that he supports a narrower change that only moves the decision-making power on bringing charges for sexual assault cases, not all felony-level charges. Reed has proposed including the change in the annual National Defense Authorization Act process instead of in a standalone bill.
The differing intraparty views on the issue were in full view Sunday, with Gillibrand taking aim at Reed’s position by arguing his narrowly defined change would set up two unequal justice systems within the military.
“His insistence on narrowing this bill to one crime — the crime of sexual assault — you’re going to basically break apart the criminal justice system within the military. You’re going to create one set of justice for one set of plaintiffs and defendants and the rest for everybody else. It’s not fair,” she told Tapper.
“Women will use this court. It will become a pink court and destabilize and make, unfortunately, a mockery of the entire criminal justice system,” Gillibrand said, noting that while men also experience sexual assault within the military, they’re less likely to come forward with claims.
“Senator Reed wants real, lasting, comprehensive reform. He is
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