Gillibrand Proposal Removed from NDAA, but Some Reforms Remain

We have more news coming out of the Senate-House compromise NDAA legislation relevant to Just Security readers, this time with respect to the reforms regarding military sexual assault.  Last month, Andy Wright had an excellent post here on Just Security outlining the competing congressional proposals from Sen. McCaskill and Sen. Gillibrand, respectively.  And earlier this week, Andy and Charlie Dunlap had an excellent exchange on the merits of the Gillibrand proposal.  Now that the dust has settled on the compromise between the Senate and the House on the NDAA, it does not appear that the Gillibrand proposal will be in the final, stripped-down NDAA.

Nevertheless, the issue likely won’t die down anytime soon.  As Ruchi first noted in this morning’s news roundup, Senator Gillibrand plans to bring her proposal to the full of the Senate for a separate vote, now that her reforms were not included in the NDAA:

“We have been assured by the Majority Leader that we will get a separate vote,” Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand, told TPM. “The Senator will not go away, she will keep fighting to protect our brave men and women in uniform and to strengthen our military.”

Perhaps more notably, the compromise NDAA does include several “historic provisions to protect and empower victims of sexual assault, boost prosecutions of sexual predators, and hold military commanders accountable.”  A press release from Senator McCaskill’s office highlights several of the reforms that are included in the NDAA:

  • Stripping military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions;
  • Requiring civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case;
  • Assigning victims their own independent legal counsel to protect their rights and fight for their interests;
  • Mandating dishonorable discharge for anyone convicted of sexual assault;
  • Criminalizing retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault;
  • Eliminating the statute of limitations in rape and sexual assault cases

For those interested in reading more, the provisions in the NDAA aimed to curb military sexual assaults can be found in Title XVII of the legislation (starting on page 704 of the bill). 

About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).