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Reid backs Gillibrand’s sex assault bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he will support Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) bill to take sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.

Reid told reporters he’s decided to support Gillibrand’s measure to take the decision to prosecute major criminal cases away from commanders.

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Reid’s support provides a boost to Gillibrand’s side as she seeks 60 votes for her measure, which is expected to get a vote as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill this week. Gillibrand’s proposal has been divisive, splitting both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in unconventional ways.

The bill presented a dilemma for Reid, forcing him to choose between supporting Gillibrand and nearly three-quarters of his caucus, or backing Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“I’m going to support Gillibrand, and Sen. Levin knows that,” Reid said.

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