Key Moments in the Military Sexual-Assault Debate (Video)

Posted November 20, 2013 at 3:49pm

As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s legislation removing the military chain of command from sexual-assault prosecutions gained support, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., pushed back on the Senate floor Wednesday, arguing that sexual-assault cases should remain in the military’s chain of command.

Levin and McCaskill are pushing other changes as well that Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, has said will make the situation better for sexual-assault victims in the armed forces.

Votes on the competing proposals could come Wednesday evening, but no time had been set by mid-afternoon.

Gillibrand’s proposal would take the decision on whether to prosecute major crimes, such as sexual assault, out of the chain of command and give those decisions over to military lawyers.

McCaskill’s amendment would build on changes already included in the defense authorization bill. It would give victims access to lawyers trained to deal with sexual-assault cases, who would provide advice on whether a victim should pursue a case through the military justice system or through civilian courts.

The proposal would also eliminate what is known as the “good soldier defense.”