Republican senator derails vote on military sexual assault proposals by tying it to doomed sanctions

President Obama has already vowed to veto the sanctions advanced by Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran

Published February 25, 2014 6:31PM (EST)

Kirsten Gillibrand          (Jeff Malet,
Kirsten Gillibrand (Jeff Malet,

A Kansas Republican derailed a Senate vote on proposals to address rampant sexual assault in the military by tying the debate to doomed sanctions against Iran that President Obama has already vowed to veto.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to entertain the Iran proposal from Jerry Moran, R-Kan., which effectively ended the debate. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the sponsor of a proposal to remove the handling of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command, had strong words for Moran for playing politics with the lives and safety of survivors of military sexual trauma. "But when the Senate can't even agree to debate the one reform that survivors have consistently said is needed to solve this crisis we are telling those victims that the deck is stacked against them right here in the United States Senate, too," she said.

Gillibrand's amendment is six votes shy of the 60-vote threshold to move the measure forward, an obstacle she is hopeful she can overcome through further debate.

The other proposal blocked by Moran from being debated came from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-N.Y., who would like to leave the adjudication of such cases within the military chain of command and "reform" the system to prevent reprisals against survivors who speak out.

As Adele M. Stan at RH Reality Check notes, McCaskill is the lone Democratic woman to oppose Gillibrand's proposal.

Gillibrand told MSNBC's Chris Hayes last week that, despite obstacles she's faced in advancing her proposal, she's still optimistic about seeing the measure advance.

“If our opponents want to filibuster a bill, if they want to filibuster justice for these men and women who will give their lives for our country, that is their right to do. And we will meet that 60 vote threshold,” Gillibrand said. “If they choose to use procedural blocks like a filibuster to make it more difficult to do this reform, that’s their choice.”

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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