Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) sexual assault bill, which she had been working on passing for the past year, failed in the Senate on Thursday afternoon. In a 55-45 bipartisan vote, the bill that has caused a great deal of debate within the body, failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. The bill would essentially take control out of the military command’s hands in prosecuting sexual assaults.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand came up short Thursday in her yearlong campaign to overhaul military sexual assault policies, falling five votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.
The New York Democrat’s bill that would have removed the chain of command from prosecuting sexual assaults and other major military crimes was derailed in the Senate on a 55-45 vote, closing out one chapter in a debate that divided the Senate but not along typical partisan lines.
Ten Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 2016 presidential hopefuls Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, backed Gillibrand’s controversial chain of command bill. But that wasn’t enough to overcome 10 Democratic votes against her, including prominent defense hawks like Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) also opposed the bill.
Gillibrand’s campaign went down to the final hours before the vote, and the outcome remained uncertain to the end as about a half-dozen Republicans and one Democrat — Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia — refused to say publicly where they’d fall.
Warner ultimately sided against Gillibrand, one of several surprises during the tense roll call. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who was lobbied by Gillibrand right up to the minute before he cast his vote, had previously indicated support for the New York Democrat. Both went against her on the procedural vote.
The New York Democrat and her allies were spotted on the floor lobbying undecided senators in recent days, offering up last-minute assurances that their proposal would give sexual victims greater incentive to report alleged crimes without disrupting the military’s long-standing command structure.