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Gillibrand: Stand with survivors

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) made her pitch Wednesday on the Senate floor for her military sexual assault amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

S. 1197 authorizes more than $625 billion in defense spending for the Pentagon. Some protections for victims of sexual assault were included during committee markup of the NDAA, such as providing a lawyer for victims and criminalizing retaliation against victims who report assaults. But Gillibrand and most of the other female senators have said the underlying bill doesn’t go far enough.

Gillibrand’s amendment would take military sexual assault cases outside the chain of command. “Victims feel they will not get justice,” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor. “If you don’t create a transparent, accountable system outside of the chain of command, your hope of victims reporting … it’s not there; the hope is not there.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and most Republicans on the committee oppose Gillibrand’s amendment.

The Pentagon has estimated that there were 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military last year. Of those sexual assaults, only 3,000 were reported, and 302 were prosecuted. Gillibrand said that’s because there is “zero accountability”

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