The Senate lets survivors down
We’ve already seen how a minority of senators can exploit procedural loopholes to block popular and important legislation — like the DREAM Act, DISCLOSE, and gun safety — but this might be the lowest they’ve ever stooped.
Today, Sen. Kristin Gillibrand’s proposal to address rampant sexual assault in the military by bringing the cases under civilian oversight and abolishing commanding officers’ ability to shut down prosecution failed to meet the critical 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster.
What’s worse, this time, the filibuster was bipartisan, with Sen. Claire McCaskill joining the obstructionists in hopes that her alternative bill, which the Pentagon supported but many advocates claimed didn’t go far enough, would be enacted instead.
Ms. McCaskill has every right to vote against this bill, but she’s taking it a step further by asserting that it doesn’t even deserve a vote. By crossing the aisle to filibuster alongside her GOP colleagues, she’s giving bipartisan credence to the idea that denying a fair hearing to legislation you don’t support is a perfectly legitimate way to govern.
Ironically, Mitch McConnell, who presumably never met a filibuster he didn’t like, voted to end debate this time around — although his reluctance to open himself to yet another line of attack in his tough re-election bid this November might have something to do with that.
What happened today should be the final nail in the coffin for anyone making the case that we should be satisfied with last November’s limited filibuster reform. Ending our military’s sexual assault epidemic is too important to get lost in Washington gridlock — and lawmakers who oppose the proposed solutions should face the American people and make their case.
And while Congress bickers, remember that only 302 of the 26,000 sexual assaults reported in our military went to trial in 2012. Survivors and advocates went to Capitol Hill looking for justice, but thanks to our broken Senate, they’ll have to wait even longer — and justice delayed is justice denied.