Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) hit another roadblock Thursday when a vote on the bill was blocked in the U.S. Senate, though this won’t be the last the chamber sees of the bill.
The MJIA would give independent prosecutors, not military commanders, the power to decide whether to prosecute cases of sexual assault in the military. Advocates say that the reform is necessary to help survivors feel more comfortable coming forward, and that more incremental reforms haven’t helped.
Gillibrand’s request to vote on the MJIA as a stand-alone bill was blocked by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who was joined in his objection by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“This is no longer about reforming a system, this is a political cause going out of control,” Graham said on the Senate floor.
Get the facts delivered to your inbox.
Want our news sent to you every week?
Graham also erroneously claimed that Gillibrand’s bill would “fire every commander and replace the commander with a bunch of military lawyers.”
Many military advocacy groups have joined Gillibrand’s call for major reforms to the military’s justice system, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
“We’re disappointed that our brave men and women in uniform didn’t get the vote that they deserve, but we will not walk away from them, and we will continue this fight in the next Congress,” a spokesperson for Gillibrand told Rewire.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the home state of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). We regret the error.