Paul Backs Military Sexual Assault Reform

Paul Backs Military Sexual Assault Reform

When an issue is important, party lines should be erased. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has no problem doing just that.

He demonstrated as much this summer, when he backed a Democratic bill to reform how sexual assault cases in the military are handled, after reports of rising cases (and mishandlings of cases) earlier in 2013.

As Arlette Saenz of ABC News wrote:

“Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today added some additional Republican support to a bill aiming to combat sexual assaults in the military…

‘I’m concerned about justice and I want it to occur in the military for victims as well as for those who are potentially accused,’ Paul said. ‘Some say we have no bipartisan cooperation around here. I disagree. I think this is a great example of how people from both sides come together to work on a problem and look honestly at what a problem is.

‘I see no reason why conservatives shouldn’t support this,’ Paul said.”

The push for reform is coming from Kirsten Gillebrand, a Democratic Senator from New York, who is the bill’s lead sponsor. She has worked politicians and the media to increase support for the bill, which will ultimately need a total of 51 co-sponsors to advance in the Senate. She had 32 at the time of Paul’s additional support. She thanked both him and Cruz, and clarified that this bill was not about politics and party.

“’This is not a Democratic idea,’ Gillibrand said. ‘It is not a Republican idea. It is a good idea.’

Gillibrand’s proposal, which is co-sponsored by 32 additional senators, was rejected by the Senate Armed Services Committee last month and has been opposed by military leaders. Although it was not approved by the committee, Cruz said he supported the plan because of Gillibrand’s arguments about success in decreasing sexual assault in the British and Israeli militaries by removing reporting from the chain of command.”

After a summer of drumming up support and building momentum, things have hit a halt recently. Darren Samuelsohn brought this up in a recent piece for Politico Pro.

“This summer Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was picking up serious momentum on a plan to overhaul how the Pentagon handles sexual assault cases.

Tea party stars Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) signed on. National media got interested. And she was even booked on ‘The Daily Show’ to tout her cause.

But now, as senators return to Washington from the August recess, they are focused on another defense question — whether to allow President Barack Obama to use military force in Syria.

And while Obama’s request on Syria is sure to drown out the debate over the budget, immigration and Edward Snowden’s whereabouts, it’s a special blow to Gillibrand, whose cause could be made even harder if Congress becomes less interested in confronting the Pentagon at a time of international conflict.”

Of course, sexual assault investigations in the military aren’t the only non-Syria issue to be consumed. But when a bill – and important bill – gets bipartisan backing, including from hugely influential political leaders like Paul, it’s tough to see it get pushed to the side.

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