Senate Blocks One Military Sexual Assault Bill

By CBS News

Published 03/07 2014 05:50AM

Updated 03/07 2014 06:13AM

WASHINGTON, DC -- Bowing to pressure from the Pentagon, the senate kills a measure that would have changed the way the military handles sexual assault cases. 

"The motion is not agreed to."

A move in Congress to combat a growing number of sexual assault cases in the military failed in the Senate Thursday.

The bill, which New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)  has been championing for the past year, fell five votes short of moving forward.
"None of us will walk away. We will not stop our efforts," said Gillibrand.

Last year more than 5,000 cases of sexual assault were reported in the military - a 60 percent jump from 2012.

The Gillibrand bill would have stripped unit commanders from deciding whether or not to prosecute cases, because she believes that keeps victims from moving forward.

But her opponents disagree.  One is fellow Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
"If you don't have the commanders as part of the solution, they are part of the problem, and I think we can hold them accountable."

McCaskill led the effort to filibuster the gillibrand bill.  McCaskill has her own legislation which keeps prosecution within the chain of command, but allows for more checks and balances.

The defeat of the Gillibrand bill comes as a top army sex crimes prosecutor faces his own accusations.

The army suspended Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Morse and is investigating claims he groped a female army lawyer in 2011 during a legal conference about sexual assault.

(Susan McGinnis, CBS News)

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