U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement yesterday after voting in favor of an amendment which would have placed authority for pursuing military sexual assault cases with military prosecutors, rather than unit commanders. Udall is a cosponsor of the amendment and the underlying bill, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The measure failed to gain the 60 votes required to move forward today, despite being supported by a bipartisan coalition of 50 senators.
“As a former prosecutor, I believe the way the military handles sexual assault crimes is in dire need of reform. Congress took important steps toward promoting justice for survivors last year, but this amendment I introduced with Senator Gillibrand would go further by ensuring these cases are handled by military prosecutors, not unit commanders. That’s the best way to ensure justice for survivors and a fair trial for the accused. I’m disappointed that the Senate did not advance this measure today, and will continue working to ensure perpetrators of these traumatic crimes are held accountable.”