Less Controversial Sexual-Assault Bill Sails Through Senate

Defense Department file photo

Sen. Claire McCaskill's bill to change the way the military handles sexual-assault cases passed the Senate with overwhelming—and expected—support Monday, with a 97 to 0 vote. 

The legislation, which the Missouri Democrat crafted along with Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., would allow victims to have a say on whether their cases are tried in military or civilian court, allow them to challenge their discharge or separation from the service, and would get rid of the "good soldier" defense—which uses a soldier's military performance to combat allegations—except in cases that directly link a soldier's military behavior to the crime.

It would also extend to the military service academies recent sexual-assault changes included in the National Defense Authorization Act that relate to sexual-assault prevention and response programs.

"Unanimous agreement in the U.S. Senate is pretty rare—but rarer still is the kind of sweeping, historic change we've achieved over the past year in the military justice system," McCaskill said. "Today the Senate voted to strengthen even further what is now one of the most victim-friendly justice systems in the world."

The bill also had the backing of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who said Monday that the legislation "includes real and important reforms" and "will surely make a major contribution in protecting the troops who protect us." 

But it doesn't go as far as a competing proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand which would have stripped from commanders the power to decide which sexual-assault cases are prosecuted. That legislation, which victims-advocacy groups backed and the Pentagon opposed, failed to get the support of 60 senators it needed last week on a procedural vote.

The New York Democrat said that she would try to get her bill included in the next defense authorization round.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.