(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans objected to votes on the military sexual assault amendments proposed by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., putting the status of the two amendments and the future of the defense authorization bill at a standstill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to schedule votes on the two military sexual assault amendments for 5:30 p.m., but Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jim Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, objected to votes Wednesday night until Reid gave an assurance that the Senate will vote on other amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act.
But Reid would not offer that assurance, creating a standstill on the defense authorization bill. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that the objections could jeopardize the completion of the act by year’s end.
“I can’t tell everybody in this body how disappointing it would be if we did not finish this bill tomorrow night or Friday,” Levin, D-Mich., said. “If we don’t finish this bill this week, there cannot be a conference report and then for the first time in 52 years there will not be a defense authorization bill.”
“My disappointment is that we’re just not doing any legislating here,” Reid, D-Nev., said.
The Senate voted Tuesday on two amendments relating to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but both failed. It’s unclear whether Reid will allow votes on other amendments in the coming days.
Gillibrand has so far secured public support from 53 senators for her plan, which would remove the chain of command from the prosecution of military sexual assault. But the proposal falls short of the 60 votes it needs to pass.
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