Senate showdown over military sexual assault bill

5:53 AM, Nov 17, 2013   |    comments
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., joined by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks at a news conference Nov. 14 on an amendment to a military sexual assault bill. (Photo: Michael Reynolds, EPA
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (KUR'-sten JIHL'-uh-brand) has secured public support from nearly half the Senate for her proposal to give victims of rape and sexual assault in the military an independent route outside the chain of command for prosecutions.

But the New York Democrat is short of the necessary votes.

Her solution appears to have stalled in the face of opposition from the Pentagon's top echelon and its congressional allies, including two female senators who are former prosecutors.

Opponents of her proposal insist that commanders, not an outside military lawyer, must be accountable for meting out justice.

Even so, major changes are coming for a decades-old military system just a few months after several high-profile cases infuriated Republicans and Democrats.

The Senate is expected to consider the defense bill this week.

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