WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 768-billion dollar defense bill that sets the agenda for military policy and spending, but New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) said some of the major bipartisan policies were gutted from the bill.
After the House voted on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sen. Gillibrand said while this 768-billion dollar defense bill includes new provisions like: beefing up security on bases, allowing a hotline for survivors to report crimes over the phone rather in person and even a pay increase for service members, it leaves out other components that she’s been pushing for.
“This bill does not reform the military justice system in a way that will truly help survivors get justice,” said Gillibrand. “It does not remove serious crimes out of the chain of command which is the only way to create a professional unbiased system that we’ve been advocating for.”
Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act proposes it would keep serious crimes, like sexual assault, under military oversight but allow those cases to be handled by independent prosecutors rather than commanders.
The Senator said by changing the way the military handles these cases will create a more unbiased and transparent process. But under the NDAA that was passed on the House floor, Gillibrand said the overall proposal was “gutted” from the bill and in the final version of this bill, the commander remains the convening authority.
Gillibrand’s proposal already had strong bipartisan support but now her republican colleagues are also speaking out; upset that these components were taken out last minute.
“When members of our military are sexually assaulted, they aren’t getting the justice they deserve,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R- IA). “We’re not gonna give up on this job, there’s too much at stake.”
The Senate will next vote on NDAA legislation. Gillibrand is now wanting congress to vote on her reforms as a standalone bill. She hopes by taking it out of the NDAA bill, it will pass.