October 1, 2014

Fischer military sexual assault bill moves forward in Senate (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer’s bill to crack down on sexual assault in the military moves ahead in the Senate, toward expected passage.

Fischer says her bill protects victims, addresses their needs, and makes military commanders accountable, claiming it and not a competing measure by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York gets to the heart of the issue.

“No, I believe it’s a stronger bill. It addresses the problem,” Fischer says.

Fischer acknowledges the issue became quite emotional during debate on the Senate floor in Washington, with senators telling horror stories of sexual assault in the military.

Fischer co-sponsors the Victims Protection Act with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Gillibrand fell short of the votes needed to move forward on her bill, which would have taken sexual assault and other criminal cases out of the military chain of command. The Senate then took up the Fischer measure and moved it forward unanimously. It is expected to receive final approval Monday.

Fischer says her bill will aid victims, which she says has not been the case with a Senate measure passed a few years ago which she calls a reaction.

“It didn’t help victims. In fact, it delayed justice.”

Fischer says passage Monday won’t be the end of the issue.

“This is just the beginning and we’re going to make sure that victims are taken care of and that we move forward in solving this problem.”

Congress earlier approved a change in the military legal system that ended the statute of limitations on assault and rape cases, made it a crime to retaliate against victims who report assaults, and required the dismissal of anyone convicted of sexual assault.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]