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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 6, 2014 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

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.. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the opening prayer will be offered by his holiness, the dalai lama.
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his holiness, the dalai lama: firstly, as usual, i am buddhist monk, so pray to buddha and all other gods.
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[speaking in foreign tongue] [speaking tibetan]gn tongue] >> the first sentence i read in my broken english. the pronounceation may not be correct. with our thoughts, we make our world. our mind is centered and precedes our deeds. speak or act with a pure mind. and happiness will follow you, like a shadow that never leaves. may there be joy in the world,
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with bountiful harvest and spiritual wealth. may every good fortune come to be. and may all our wishes be fulfilled. [speaking tibetan] this is my this is my favorite pray. daily i pray this, because it gives me inner strength. as long as space remains, and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may i too remain, and help dispel the misery of the
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world. thank you. >> the senate considered two competing military sexual assault bills blocking the one by kirsten gillibrand that would have removed the military chain of command from making decisions on sexulate assault cases. claire mccaskil's bill received the votes to move forward. here is the debate. it is about two hours. mrs. gillibrand: i rise today to i rise to speak about the to need to strengthen our military
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and standby our brave men and women in uniform by passing the bipartisan justice improvement act. i want to thank all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the seriousness they have approached this issue and the effort they have looked at for the solutions the survivors are asking for. i want to thank my friends from missouri and new hampshire for determination and leadership for fighting for the sexual assault victims. i would like to defer to senner inholfe. mr. inhofe: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. >> madam president?ma. >> senator from oklahoma.
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>> when the majority leader said congress can't stand by and not do anything, i have to remind them we have been doing this for quite some time. we have been working on the problem of sexual assaults. the reality is congress has been aggressive in instituting reforms to tackle the sexual assault in the military since '09 with the defense authorization act has enacted 47 provisions directly dealing with this or dealing with efforts to improve allegations of misconduct and they have strengthen the protection of the victims while preserving the rights of the accused. they are vital to assure a fair military justice system. i look at the bill that we are
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considering that will be coming up in a short while and the bill modifies the way i see the problems. in january a letter to the department sighted technical problems and i will quote from the letter quote potentially not able to be reconciled and if conviction results it would it could result in years of more trials and perhaps resulting in the reversal. the bill requires a requirement that judges required to perform
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the duties must be taking from existing bullets. no growth is authorized in this so it has to come from the existing ones. i received a personal letter from the judge advocate journal of the army and he wrote me and said the bill wouldn't be cost neutral according to initial estimates. it would require 50 judge advocate kernels and 200 judge advocati advocates and a 150 legal support staff members. she went on to say, and these are our quotes, this is happening at a time when they are trying to reduce perm cost to accommodate shrinking
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budgets. the department of defense provided an assessment of the devastating impact of this gillibrand bill. the defense office of program and evaluation estimate a total cost of $113 every year to implement the bill in the army, air force, navy and marines. it isn't executable in a cost neutral bases nor is it possible to grow the number of inven tory required in the bill within the 180 days of enactment. this decision will have a consequence on the military and the bill threatens to tear apart what i believe is the fabric of the armed forces; the chain of command. i cannot find people who have been in the military who don't agree with this.
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i was in the uniform code cof military justice when i was in the united states army. not at the level that the senators who have been more rent recently like senator graham. but i was a reporter and sometimes they know more than the bosses. i was grounded years ago that you cannot mess with the chain of command. when you stop and think about what a commander has to do, he is required to take care of the physical condition, the medical condition of the troops, he required training to have a medical care if they are wounded and has to make the decision of sending the troops into combat.
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it is not conceivable to me that he would be taken out of the chain. it isn't just be. i had a conversation with a kernel from the marine core and she said quote you don't understand if you are not in the military that it is built around the chief of command. if we dismantle the chain of command, we are lost. and then it was said it would be devastating to the united states military, a commander can't be held responsibility if he doesn't have the authority to act. so us involved in the military understand the serious problems that would come from the adoption of this bill and i recommend we defeat the gillibrand bill.
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with that i yield the floor. >> senator from new york? >> i would like to yield ten minutes to senator collins. >> the senator from maine. >> thank you, madam president. i am relieved this legislation has been brought to the senate floor and i want to commend the senator from new york, senator gillibrand and the senator from missouri, senator claire mccaskil. i want to also recommend two mainers who were sexually
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assaulted while serving our country and they have made it their mission to change the broken system that is not putting victims first. they have helped to shine a light on this crises and they deserve our gratitude. in fact, as senator gillibrand and i were coming on to the floor we were stopped by a reporter who asked us what has made the difference, and i said the leadership of the senator from new york and missouri, but i pointed to the survivors of military sexual assult who have come forward and been willing to tell their story, painful as they are. since 2004, i have been sounding the signs over the ineffective
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punishment for the perp traitors of the crime, providing adequate care for survivors and change the culture across the military so sexual assault is unthinkable. madam president, it was ten years ago, the vice chief of staff testifying at the hearing was totally dismissive even though these are serious crimes
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that traumatize survivors and erode the trust and discipline fundamental to every military unit. i was appalled at the reaction. while the attitude today among the most senior military leaders is marketedly different than the one that i encountered a decade ago, the work of translating the military's dated policy of zero tolerance into the reality is unfinished business. bustering the zero tolerance so the number of assaults are deminished is a goal, not reality. and making sure survivors don't
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are able to report the acts are not part of the military culture still. i joined john kerry in introd e introducing the defense strong act. the provisions were signed into law as part of the fiscal 2012 national defense authorization act provides survivors of sexual assault with privacy, access to an attorney and for the victim to be transferred far away from the assailient. the victims and survivors need
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to have the confidence that the legal system they report to crime to will produce a justice and fair result. we need to encourage more reporting and that is what senator gillibrand's bill will accomplish. i believe this was goal is shared by all members of congress despite the disagreement over the best path forward to achieve the goals. a number of proposals have been introduced aimed at reducing the barriers to justice that many victims of sexual assault face in the military. i have been able to work with many others on important
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provisions that we all agree on and they have been signed into law as part of this past year's national defense authorization act. among those provisions is legislation that i co-authored to expend the strong act to the coast guard. in addition, senator claire mccaskil made sure any member convicted of sexual assault lose their weapons. and also the attacker has to move, not the survivor. why should the survivor have to to leave?
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we offered a position that elimina eliminates a commander's right to overturn a conviction post-trial for such cases. we are taking steps to address this vitally important issue. but more remains to be done. i remained aware of the fact there are strong views at the pentagon and within this body about how we should best move forward from here and what that may mean for the military's unique legal system. but one of the criticisms that i reject and we should wait a few
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more months for the results of a few more studies or wait a few years to see if the enacted provisions made a difference. i strongly disagree. how many more victims are required to suffer before we act further? how many more lives must be ruined before we take additional steps that we knee are required to solve this problem. rather than waiting for the results of yet more studies, we must continue to enact real reforms, to increase the confidence of survivors to come forward and report the crimes, to ensure that the perpetrators will be dealt with appropriately and to strengthen prevention
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efforts right now. senator gillibrand's bill is a reasonable proposal designed to communicate to survivors and potential perp tratraitors alik that when people are subjecticed to horrific crimes they will have access to a legal system that protects their interest. providing our troops with that confidence is the least we can do. madam president, i believe there is no question of congress' commitment to reducing the instances of sexual assault in the military and providing appropriate redress and care for survivors. while we debate various proposals, we are united by the
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need for serious reforms that will strengthen the military's response to sexual assaults. and for the leadership of the senators and the courage of those survivors who were finally willing to come forward and tell their stories and know that we would listen to them, believe them, and act. we would not be here today if it were not for them. i am certain our work will reduce the unnecessary suffering and injustice felt by those who have survived these horrific crimes. thank you, madam president. >> senator from new york. >> i yield by time to the senator from iowa.
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>> thank you, madam president. >> thank you, senator from new york. the defense department has been promising congress and the many people for long time they are working on the problem of sexual salt. we are looking for results and statistics are getting worse. enough is enough i think is what senator gillibrand is saying with her legislation. so i am proud to be a partner in this effort. it fits into an overall principle of government that i have that greater transparency brings accountability and i think this legislation is going to be making this whole problem much more transparticipant -- tra transparent -- and hopefully get things resolved. changes are long overdo. we are past the point of
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tinkering with the current system and hoping that does the trick. we have had promises about tackling this for years and years, but there problem isn't any better and statistics show getting worse. we don't have the luxury of time to try some new reforms of the current system and hope they have not had an impact. what is more, the current system appears to be part of the problem. we know from the defense department report, 50% of female victims stated they didn't report the crime because they believe nothing would be done as a result of their reporting. 74% of the females, 60% of the males perceived one or more barrier to reporting the assault. 62% of the victims who reported
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the assault indicated they perceived a form of retaliation. we can talk about protecting the victims, but the current structure of the military system is having a negative effect on the reporting. if they are not reporting, they cannot be prosecuted. and if they are not reported, predators remain in the military and that results in the way atmosphere -- of -- thinking this is okay. we are doing this to ourselves. the men and women who volunteer
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to place their life on the line deserve better than that. our military readiness demands it. taking prosecution out of the hands of commander and giving it to impartial people will insure justice. i know people will be worried about the military lobbying against this legislation. i have the greatest respect to military leader but we have given them more than enough time to fix the current system. we have we should not be intimidated by people coming to the hill for stars and ribbons. we also hear this will effect the ability of commanders to maintain good order and discipline. our legislation in no way takes
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the ability of commanders to punish troops for military infractions. commanders should and will be held accountable for their command. but the sexual assault is a law enforcement matter not a military one. we can take confidence in the fact an advisory committee appointed by the secretary of defense supports these reforms. there is an organization appointed by the secretary of defense, and the defense on women in the services voted to support each and over one of these components of the gillibrand bill. defense secretary marshal created some of these way back in and military men and women are appointed to recommend
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advice on policies regarding recruitment and the well-being of the highly qualified professional women in the armed forces. these have been instrumental in affecting changes to the laws of policy pertaining to women in the military. this isn't an advocating group. it an advisory committee and it supports the substance of this legislation. it is easier to support incremental reform, but it is important to try small reforms before making bigger changes. some senators are nervous about this and i understand it. it isn't something i approach lightly but we waited for years. we are talking about something serious and life-altering and we
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cannot afford to wait. the time has come to act decisively to change the military culture. our men and women serving this country deserve nothing less and they deserve it now. they should not have to wait any longer for justice. for those unsure of taking this step, i would say if the more modest reforms proposed by others prove insufficient and we will to enact these at a later time, how will you justify your vote today? now is the time to vote and i urge my colleagues to join in that. >> i yield to the senator from montana followed by the senator from kentucky. >> senator from montana.
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a senator: >> madam president, i would like to thank the senators for their dedication and commitment to dealing with sexual assault in the military. i believe we must do more than this. my perspective on prosecuting military sexual assault comes from 33 years in the national guard. my view on this is simple: the current system is failing the men and women in uniform and that is unacceptable. i believe we must fundamentally change how we deal with sexual assaults in the military. we have moved too slowly. today's debate is about where we go from here. in the armed forces today, the
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military commander is ultimately responsible for the prosecution of these crimes. in the montana national guard, we did things differently. if the unimagineable happened, the prosecution of the sexual assault was outside of the military commander. this justice improvement act removes the prosecution from the commanders much like the montana national guard system. one thing i have heard about this is military leaders will somehow lose authority on other matters. as a retired military commander, i am confidant this isn't the case. i never found byself where discipline and devotion to a mission was jeopardized by
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compliance with the suzilian justice system. i am not taking hypothetical here. i lived the chain of command function. today's debate is part of a broader effort to improve our military and the lives of those who have swerved from the justice system to the va claims backlog to ensureing veterans find jobs. we have the opportunity to correct the failures and it is time get it done. thank you, madam president. >> senator from kentucky. >> it was written having heard all of this you may chose to
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look the other way but you can never say you didn't know. having heard the sexual assault cases in the military, we can look away but we cannot say we haven't heard of this program. i don't think anybody wants to but the definition of in sanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result. we know sexual assault is a problem in the military decade after decade. i think it is time to try something new. when i heard of a long military recruit from our state, a young woman who was raped and beat to a pulp and hips and legs bruised and considered suicide, when i heard her rape kit was lost and the case was dismissed i am disheartened. her assailiant is still in the navvy.
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we cannot ignore this problem. to me it is as simple as should you have to report your assault to your boss. what if your boss goes drinking with the person who assaulted you? wouldn't you want to make the personal you talk to is outside of the chain? wouldn't you want lawyers whose specialty is this thing. guilt is hard to find. justice is hard to find. but we have evidence that people don't trust the system. 26,000 episodes of unwanted sexual contact. they say 50% of the victims, though, go unreported. there is a lot of reasons for this even in the private world people are afraid or ashaped or and don't feel like they can talk about it. we should make sure it is easy to report this because we don't
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want this to occur. it doesn't mean men and women that serve is a problem. it is small percentage. but 26,000 people having this happen to them, we need a solution. when i see this, and i see what senator gillibrand has done, to me, the idea says the time has come and it is about finding due process. when you get this out of the arbitrary nature of a commander making a decision and you have it in a court with judges yowl hear arguments on the boat sides and protects the innocent and finds justice for the accused. i overwhelmingly support this and i suggest we understand that the problem goes on, and twerking or nibbing around the
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edges saying we will see if these changes work is what we have been doing. i say it is time for change. i stand with senator gillibrand. thank you. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. >> senator from missouri. >> i would like to yield eight minutes to the senator from road island. >> thank you, madam president. there is no doubt that when a sexual assault occurs in a military unit when a service member is a victim or perptraitor of sexual assault, we have had failed. and that is why the senators have been so critical and so important. they are galvanized this debate and forced action where action wasn't being taken and now the question is what is the path
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that is going to achieve what why all want: reduction of sexual abuse in the military forces. i expressed concerns of the approach that senator gillibrand is taking because i firmly believed based on the experience in the active military that leadership has to be involved in every state, recruitment, training, evaluation, promotion and retention. when we take the commanders out of any of the steps we take away their effectiveness. to remove the commander, weakens his or her leadership and that is seen on the battle field and that could be significant. we have to, i think, continue to maintain a system that
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recognizes the need for constant attention to sexual abuse and constant leadership focus on this and the proposal being put forth isn't just about sexual abuse. it covers a wide range of offenses. offenses like larceny of equipment in the barracks. it covers a whole host of crimes that are not directly related to sexual abuse. and this system, which is then created, some traditional charges like awol have been reserved to the commander, but a significant amount have been referred to the new progress and that will cause practical
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problems that will affect units being able to perform missions and do what is necessarily to protect the soldiers, sailorman or marines. very experienced members have pointed out several issues. it fails to direct the compl complexity. some go to a special process and some stay with the commander. that is conflicting decisions and imposes significant cost and also interferes with the sense that soldiers know what to expect. this proposal takes away
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non--judicial punishment. you could have a barrack thief that would trigger a charge that would have to be refer today a special prosecutor. if he or she declines to prosecute it goes back to the company commander and they can't impose punishment for the simple fact the accused has to accept the punishment. the senses that are probably tried or sought out will go unpunished and the whole climate of command could be weakened. and there is a constitutional issue thirdly. on this proposal, you have the creation of a single office,
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with the authority to appoint prosecutors, defense councils and judges and members of court marshal and that raise constitutional provisions and problems. we have had a vigorous debate. it has been important. but we have had the opportunity since that debate to get the results of the roll of the commander subcommittee from the response system panel. these are objective and many of them have been for years in the forefront of urging sensible reforms in the military of being on the vanguard of protecting victims in many different forms and they have concluded the commander should remain within the system and should remain as the senators proposed with corrections and improvements
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which i think are very appropriate. so i would urge that we think strongly about the provisions that the senators have proposed with a strengthened system. but to remove the commander as proposed, i think, in the long run be dettrimerimental to the n goal of reducing sexual assault in the military. committed to this goal of ending it, i think we should support senator claire mccaskil and i am pleased to do so. >> senator from new york. >> i yield time to the senator from california.
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>> thank you very much. thank you for your leadership. you will hear today two things one is support both bills, which i believe we should do, and one is an attack on the gillibrand brand which for the life of me i don't understand. wrm i am not going to fillbuster senator claire mccaskil's bill because it is important. and i am not do that to the other bill because it is the one chance to bring about what the survivors areing ask to bring about. and i will ask to enter 45 supporting the gillibrand brand bill. i want you to remember this with you attack them.
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the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. do you want to listen to the people or the bureaucrats? the vietnam veterans of america, the service women's action network, the lutheran church, the national congress of black women, the ywca -- 45 organizations and we put that into the record. i have a strong message for colleagues: don't fillbuster justice. these women deserve an up or done vote on the bill. the only reason i think some are forcing the filbiuster is they
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know we have the majority. we will find out how strong is. what a sad day when 17 women in the united states senate support both approaches, 17-20 women, we are facing a filibuster on the gillibrand bill. don't filibuster justice. it is pretty simple. it is important to listen to the words of the victim and find a little humility. a story of a man serving in the marine core who was brutally raped and assaulted by a group of sailor marines. ashamed and fearing for his life he kept a secret for 15 years.
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do you think what it is like to keep a secret like that? to suffer the pain, humilation for 15 years. when he finally found the courage to share the story, he wrote it down. i want you to listen to his words: quote it left me torn apart mentally, spiritually and physically. i was treated with cruelty. i was embarrassed and young at the time. and being part of an elite organization that values brotherhood made it hard to come forward. here we are two decades later and no one has been held accountable for that crime.
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you will hear the voices of the status quo in this body. and they are in great company. the ones who are filibusting the bill. these are some of the voices of the status quo and notice that republicans and democrats. dick cheney said in 1992 we have a major effort underway to educate everybody and let them know we have a zero tolerance policy. bill perry, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment. this is going on and on 20 years and that spirit is being continued right here today. from those who want from those who want to filibuster the gillibrand. secretary rumsfeld sexual
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assault will not be tolerated. we have no tolerance for this. secretary hagel continues these crimes have no place in the greatest military on earth. words are swell. but let's look at where we are today in terms of what is is going on on the ground. i say to the voices who are standing in the way of an up or down vote look at the facts. 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military in 2012. 1.2% have been prosecuted. this white circle represents the 26,000 cases. this thin sliver of green represents the cases prosecuted. and you know what happens to those people who get out? they continue their activities
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either in the military or on the streets of our cities and our countries and states. but the status quo say we cannot make this change over n though 45 organizations including the iraq and afghanistan fighters are telling us to do so. here is the deal: another way to look at this 26,000 estimated sexual assaults in 2012. we have a 90% problem. 90% of these cases go unreported. guess what folks? are you that surprise they are afraid to go to their chander? those of you supporting this status quo, ask them, don't listen to senator gillibrand or me, we are not in the military. the people in the military are begging us and telling us, every
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organization that is standing for the survivors, please change it. if there was a rape in your office, in the united states senate, and somebody upstairs yelled and screamed, what would you do? would you decide if the case should be prosecuted or would you call the police and the experts? i don't think ceo's ought to determine whether a case of rape should be prosecuted. i don't think so. but that is what you are supporting here with the commander who knows all of the players. suppose he goes out to drink with the perptrait and knows hi well. let's get to the heart of the matter here. so here is my summation.
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we can continue the 20 years of baloney and not make the change that needs to be made. or under the gillibrand important bill what we do is we say why keeping this nit military, but we are allowing the experts to make the decision. that is fair to the acocuser an with the accused. we have people supporting us because they believe it is fair to both sides. don't stand up to the people who are will to let it go. don't filibuster justice. this is a chance we have. an opportunity to have. yes, it will be revised over and
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again because if we don't make the changes, it will continue. today is an amazing moment in time we can come together and allow an up or down vote on the gillibrand proposal. we will not filibuster justice and we would bring leading change that all of the organizations endorse. we will stand with the survivors and the advocating groups. thank you very much. >> madam president? >> senator from missouri? >> i yield to the senator from michigan. >> madam president, first let me thank senator claire mccaskil for her terrific leadership on this matter with all the people on the committee who worked hard
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to strengthen laws against sexual assault and strengthen the ability of the commanders to act as we did in the defense authorization bill and the second bill we'll vote on today. we will vote on two bills regarding sexual assault in the military. i believe the strongest, most effective approach we can take to reduce sexual assault is to hold chand commanders accou accountable for maintaining a command climate that doesn't tolerate sexual assault. and we must maintain the authority to prosecute sexual assault military commanders have and we must add greater accountable for those commanders. removing this authority from our commanders would weaken, not strengthen, our response to this
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urgent problem. and that is why i believe the bill offered by senator gillibrand and others, though offered in the hope, it will strengthen efforts to end sexual assault, i fear it would have the opposite affect. we have learned in scores of cases, commanders prosecuted sexual assault cases that civilian attorneys have declined to prosecute. we have learned our military allies whose policy have been sighted in support of removing protect the rights of the accused not the victim. we have learned there is no evidence that the changes increased in reporting results of crimes. so when they made the change not to protect victims but increase the rights of the accused, it
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didn't make more results being reported. we had an independent panel of legal and military experts of diverse backgrounds that was established by congress to advise us on how to respond to this issue. a subcommittee of the panel addressed the role of commanders in prosecuting sexual assaults: the very issue we are voting on. and here is what they choncluded quote. there is no evidence bases and supporting a conclusion that removing senior commanders as convening authority will reduce the incidences of sexual assault or increase sexual assault reporting. the subcommittee reached that
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dispite the fact many were support were of the notion we should remove the commanders authority. here is what a few members of the subcommittee said, former congresswomen beth holton said quote i changed my mind because i was just listening to what we heard. i started out thinking why thought change it. and now i am saying why change it. she said turning over to prosecutors doesn't mean you will get the results you are looking for. close quote. she was the author of the federal rape shield law. another member of the subcommittee, former judge
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barbara jones says quote there is no evidence reporting will increase and if i were persuaded it would encourage them to report, it would be a different story. but i am not persuaded of that. and listen to may hernandez, the director of the victims of crime, she said this about the proposal of removing the commanders authority to prosecute quote when you here it at first blush you say i want to go with that. but when you hear the facts, like you would in a case, it doesn't hold up. the women making those statements had no stars on their shoulders. they are not pentagon insiders. they are members of a independent panel we in congress tasked with reporting to us on
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these issues. underlying the problems is a culture that is too unaware a person who is successful in his personal life might be a sexual predat predator. the military has unique tools to address these problems. f foremost among the tools is the authority of the commander to establish a command climate by givinging orders and enforcing discipline. at every time in our history, when your military faced culture changes like the challenge of ending racial discrimination or don't ask don't tell, every time it was commanders with the
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authority to initiate court marshal that have been required to make change. we will not make change if we demand they change the military culture to take on the problem and remove from them. they are the most powerful tools to achieve change. senator gillibrand's bill creates a new accept pretty disposition authority. too deal with the sexual assault and other crimes. our focus is on how to improve our approach to sexual assault. ... would deal with. in a letter to me undersecretary of defense jessica wright recently reported in fiscal year 2012, the department of defense estimates it handled more than 5,600 cases that would be referred to this new disposition authority if it were created.
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but two-thirds of those cases did not involve sexual assault. so the bill, the gillibrand bill, would shift dozens of our top military lawyers to a new authority that would spend only a third of its time dealing with the problem that we're trying to the problem that we're trying to only a third of its time dealing with a problem we are trying to solve, the problem of sexual assault. the defense authorization act was reenacted a few months ago and provides our commanders an additional tool to meet this challenge and important new protections for victims. provides victims of sexual assault with their own legal counsel a specially trained to assist them. it makes retaliation a crime when that retaliation is against victims who report a sexual assault. it requires the inspector general investigate all complaints of retaliation.
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it requires that any decision by a commander not to prosecute a sexual assault complaint will have an automatic review by higher command authority. in nearly all cases by a general or flag officer and in certain cases by the service secretary, the highest civilian authority in each service. now the second bill we are going to vote on today offered by senators mccaskill ayotte and others provides additional protections to those that we just added in the defense authorization act. the mccaskill ayotte l. insures victims have a voice in deciding whether their cases will be prosecuted in the military or civilian justice system. indeed it requires a special victims counsel established by the defense authorization act to advise victims on the pros and cons of those new approaches. it requires the commanding officers be graded on their success or failure in creating a climate in which there is no
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tolerance for sexual misconduct and in which victims can come forward without fear. these additional protections in the mccaskill ayotte l. hel says -- help us answer the key question. how can we best strengthen our protections against military sexual assault and i believe we do so by empowering victims and by holding our commanders accountable. but in conclusion we threaten to weaken those protections if we undermine the authority of the very commanders who must be at the heart of the solution and powerful evidence should lead us to the conclusioconclusio n that we should not remove the authority of commanders to prosecute these cases. i think the presiding officer and i yield the floor. >> the senator from new york. >> i yield my time to the senator from new new new hampshire.
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>> senator from new hampshire. >> thank you madam president and thank you senator gillibrand. i rise today in strong support of senator gillibrand's military justice improvement act and i want to recognize all the senators who have worked so hard on this legislation in all of the groups who have been involved. i was very proud to be an original co-sponsor of the legislation and after more than a year of meeting with military sexual assault survivors in bringing attention to this ongoing crisis i am encouraged by the historic opportunity we have today. as senator levin said this is an important debate for us to be having and i certainly applaud senators mccaskill and ayotte and everyone who has been involved in this effort because i think it sends a very important message to our leaders and the military and to those who would perpetrate crimes of sexual violence but today we have not only the opportunity to
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make meaningful commonsense reforms to our military criminal justice system but we also have a chance to send a very powerful message to the tens of thousands of victims many of whom have been suffering quietly for decades that what happened to them is not acceptable. it is criminal and it will no longer be tolerated. so let's be clear, sexual assault is a crime. it's not an accident. it's not a mistake. it is a violent criminal acts often perpetrated a serial offenders and we can't allow sexual assault perpetrators to escape justice in any setting particularly when these assaults occur within our nation's military. unfortunately it's been 23 years since the tailhook scandal and despite the repeated assurances that the chain of command is committed to addressing this issue we are no closer to a
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solution. so how long will we wait? how many tens of thousands of our sons and daughters will be victims? how many will be fit comes without reliable access to justice? today we have a rare opportunity to end one of the fundamental structural biases that persist in our military criminal justice system. this is not about undermining battlefield command or good order and discipline. no one wants to do that. this is about access to justice. survivors overwhelmingly tell us that the reason they don't come forward is because they don't trust that chain of command. they don't trust that the chain of command will handle their case objectively, a fact that has been repeatedly acknowledged by military leaders during armed services committee hearings. so placing the decision on whether to go to trial in the hands of experienced military prosecutors is a commonsense
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reform that will go a long way toward promoting transparency and accountability within our system. our military traditions of honor and respect are too important to continue to be pledged by the status quo. we strengthen our military when victims of sexual assault have the confidence to come forward and report crimes and we remove fear and stigma from the process. we strengthen our military when we are able to deliver fair and impartial justice on behalf of victims. well, victim's eyes on us today. there is strong bipartisan support behind the gillibrand bill. it's on full display today. i certainly urge all of my colleagues to support this measure and let's make meaningful reform to what has happened for too long to victims of sexual assault in the military. thank you madam president and i
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yield. >> madam president i rise together with my colleagues senator graham and senator and ayotte and would ask the chair to advise that when we have used 20 minutes of time we are going to engage in a colloquy about this important decision in front of the united states senate. you know it is in fact with great humility that i come to this policy debate. i don't think anyone in the united states senate has spent more time in the courtroom putting perpetrators in prison that have committed sexual crimes. i don't think anybody has spent more time with victims of sexual assault. it is incredible amount of pressure that you feel when you walk into a courtroom knowing that victim has placed trust in you to bring the evidence forward and i am forever marked by that experience and it is with that experience that i have
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become convinced that the policy changes that are being advocated will not work for fit dems. in fact, it is clear that when these changes have been and acted other places that reporting has not increased. it is clear that right now we have more cases going to court-martial over the objections of prosecutors then the objections of commanders. today there is a court-martial on going where prosecutor walked away from a serious charges and the commander said go forward. almost 100 cases in the last two years were prosecutors have said you know it's too tough. this case is too tough. and the commanders have said no we have got to get to the bottom of it and we can't let the commanders walk away. we cannot let the commanders walk away. and there is nothing in the
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gillibrand proposal that provides additional protection for retaliation. another commonsense argument could be made that if you walk off of your unit and a lawyer and i would ask senator graham if you walk in back into your unit after being victimized and the unit does the commander has said this case is going forward how would that contrast to walking back into your unit when the unit knows someone earlier hundreds of miles away would say whether this case goes forward. i'm trying to figure out how removing the commander provides any additional protection from retaliation to that victim. >> a commander in the military is not just somebody. the man or woman in charge of that unit is the person we give ultimate authority to decide life and death decisions for that unit so if you deal the commander out you have got a
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rape in the barracks. the worst thing that could happen in the unit is for the commander to say this is no longer my problem. it is your commander -- problem commander and every commander i have met wanted to continue to be their problem because when you have one member of the unit assaulting another it affects everybody in that unit and the person we choose as a nation to run the finest military in the world, the commander has the absolute authority to maintain that unit for readiness and if you don't get that commander the tools and hold him accountable that unit will fall apart right in front of our eyes until some lawyer somewhere is no substitute for the commander who is there every day. >> senator ayotte i am also struggling with some of the practical problems in this policy and one of the things i cannot figure out is why the amendment limits the ability to
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add an additional resources. if strictly prohibits the military from bringing additional resources to bear on this problem which is counterintuitive to me if the goal here is to do our very best job to protect victims and the practical problem is we do not have enough of the level of officers to set up these officers on global basis which means that things are going to slow down because we don't have enough and certainly i know you have been a prosecutor. there is nothing harder to a victim than justice delay so in addition to not protecting from retaliation in addition to removing commanders from their accountability we also have real practical implications. >> i think the senator from missouri for her leadership on this. you are correct. you have prosecuted more of these cases than i think anyone in this body so i appreciate your leadership on this.
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if under the system that has put forward under senator gillibrand's proposal and let me thank her for her compassion on this issue as well. it prohibits funding and personnel. how does that work when we are going to set up a homely system and i worry about the deployability of the system. when you are in iraq or afghanistan and you are a victi. lawyers going to be? will they be in washington making this decision? we won't be able to put any additional resources toward it so deployability and other problems on implementation. their concerns about a right to a speedy trial and if that happens as you know the defendant can't be prosecuted. we have got eliminating the ability to plea bargain. we have had senator reid talk about that because his proposal eliminates two-thirds of the crimes from the ucmj out of the authority of the commander well beyond the issue of sexual assault which we are committed to addressing and they create
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serious due process concerns. there are serious implementation questions about this. i want to raise a question that keeps coming up. we need to hold commanders more accountable here. i would agree with the senator from missouri we cannot allow them off the hook and if we take them out of this equation then there will be less accountability. our proposal actually has to be part of how you were going to be judged as a commander, how you handle these cases and that is not the status quo because we want the chain of command to be more accountable. but we keep hearing we want victims to come forward and you know that from your experience as a prosecutor and i would say this. does the evidence support that more victims will come forward if we actually passed senator gillibrand's proposal because why are we here? we want more victims to come forward.
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this is ultimately what we are trying to get at. >> in fact i think that is one of the reasons if you look at this quote i went into this thinking senator gillibrand's legislation makes sense that when you hear the facts it doesn't hold up. now that's an important quote but it's more important when you realize he said it. this was the woman who was the national center for victims of crime for our entire nation. she had 150 witnesses representing many of the groups. she realized that when we looked at the data our allies have done this and not in one nation after years of experience with changing the system has the reporting increased. the way to increase reporting is to give the victim is safe harbor which we have done to a port outside the chain of command and to have their own lawyer. and to make sure that they have
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power and difference in the process which we have done along with reform so i'm very proud to have worked with senator gillibrand on this. >> if you wanted to find leadership, definition of leadership in 2014 mccaskill, ayotte and the great senator from nebraska. three women taking on the issue head on to my democratic colleagues, to those of you who are going to stick with making reforms without destroying their commander's role in the military you deserve a lot of credit because people have been on your rear in the donor committee to vote the other way. to these ladies, and there've been plenty of people helping, you don't know how much has been appreciated in the military. this is not a legal debate here. how many of you have done a court-martial? how many have you
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court-martialed anybody in the military? i have done hundreds. as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. this is not some casual event to me. what senator gillibrand is doing is way off base. it will not get us to the promised land of having a more victim friendly system to report sexually assaults. that is being accomplished because of the people i just named senator fisher ayotte mccaskill and senator levin. you have brought about reforms in terms of how you report a case in the military allowing a lawyer to be assigned to every victim. i cannot tell you how proud i am of what you have been able to accomplish. the united states military has the most victim friendly -- how many of you believe we have the finest military in the entire world? every member of this body would raise their hand and the question is why?
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because we got the best lawyers in the world? no, because we have had the best commanders. men and women who are given the responsibility to defend this nation and have power and responsibility that most of you could never envision and if this is about sexual assault, why the hell are we paying -- taking it out of the commanders purview? this is about liberal people wanting to gut the military justice system social engineering run amok. i want to help victims but i also want a fair trial. the one thing i will not say is that our commanders that exist in 2014, you are fired because you are morally bankrupt. you don't have the ability to render justice in your unit because there is something wrong with you. your sense of justice is askew so we are going to fire you and take away an authority you have had traditionally to make sure that your unit is ready to go to
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war because we feel you are morally bankrupt. what other conclusion can you come to? the next time you see somebody in the military who is a senior member, the 3% that senior -- senator gillibrand says it's only 3% that make our decisions. who are the these 3%? these are weighing commanders are squadron commanders our brigade commanders the people we entrust and hold accountable for fighting and winning the war. ladies and gentlemen if you care what military lawyers think every judge advocate general isn't egging us not to do this. the people you are going to get the power to don't want it because they understand that the commander is different than the lawyers of the first female judge advocate general of the army has made an impassioned plea, do not do this. this is not a legal issue alone. this is about how you maintain the best military in the world.
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i would conclude that if you want to create confusion in the ranks and if you want to tell every enlisted person who has to their commander the united states senate just fired your boss when it comes to these kinds of matters that you should still respect them. that is a very confusing message. i would like to say this. we have had some bad commanders but i want to end my thought in my speech with this. to those who command the military i have confidence in you that you will take the system to a new level. you have got to up your game but i'm not going to fire you. thank you for commanding the finest military in the world and i will do nothing to say you are morally bankrupt because i don't believe that. >> senator grimm i have great respect for your time working in the trenches of those as a military prosecutor in the
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j.a.g. corps and i will tell you honestly i am less concerned about the commanders then i am the victims and you and i maybe don't see it exactly the same way in that regard. i do believe that there are commanders that deserve to be held accountable for their failure to act, for their ability to sweep this crime under the rug throughout history but i think we are handing the broom to the prosecutors at this point based on the data that we have to. one the things i wanted to go over and tensions senator ayotte is i think it's important to understand the panel was mentioned and i want everyone to understand the difference. the tackle its panel has been in place for years and they took this matter up and heard no witnesses from the j.a.g. corps. in fact i think they heard two or three witnesses and toured them more of me and christian --
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kristin gillibrand and there was no time to go deeply into this very complex subject. the systems -- was created by congress for the purpose of giving us their clear i of advice on the best way to deal with this problem in the military. this is the majority of civilians and the majority of women that made up this panel and they heard 150 witnesses over months. they heard from all of the people advocating for the gillibrand proposal. they heard from the j.a.g.s, they heard from organizations and they came out overwhelmingly rejecting this proposal. what are the most interesting members i will be honest when i went to testify on this response panel i was very worried that elizabeth holtzman or three would not agree with me. i assumed that she would again this process assuming the simple
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equation of victims versus commanders i picked victims. if only it were that simple but what the response panel found out is it's not that simple. the judge who wrote the decision overturning doma he said just turning it over to prosecutors doesn't mean you're going to get the results you are looking for. elizabeth holtzman -- this is elizabeth holtzman. just turning it over to prosecutors doesn't mean you're going to get the results you are looking for. judge jones, there is no evidence that removing the convening authority is going to improve any of those portion of the system. that is startling, this response from a panel that looked at it over months, 150 witnesses majority civilians, majority women. this is not a bumper sticker. it is not as simple as it sounds.
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i would never oppose anything that i thought was going to help victims are put more perpetrators in prison, ever. this will have the opposite impact that many advocates are indicating that it will. senator ayotte. >> let me just say that this panel took on the key questions. that is why are we doing this? i am doing this because i believe that victims will get justice and there will be more accountability. i want to hold the commanders more accountable for not only how they handle these crimes but also for that zero tolerance policy within their unit. that is what we want them judged on this basis that that panel looked at the issue of the panels and found removing senior commanders has convening authority will reduce the incidence of sexual assault which we want them to establish that climate within their unit to do so or increase reporting
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of sexual assault. i would also say if we want justice for victims what about those 93 victims where the commander said bring the case forward even though the j.a.g. lawyers said no. they wouldn't have gotten justice said the evidence is the opposite. what we say to those victims? the evident shows commanders are bringing cases more frequently than their j.a.g. lawyers and over their objections. the panel also found that none of the military justice systems of our allies was changed or set up to deal with the problem of sexual assault so those allies who have taken it out of the chain of command, this panel said that none of them can attribute any changes in the reporting of sexual assault to changing the role of the commander. we were told from the beginning of this argument that our allies change this sort war people would come forward. well they haven't in fact what we learned is many of our allies
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changed it to protect the. >> is it true that our reporting has done that? >> are reporting since 2013 in the marine corps is up 80% and in the army it's up 50% and that's before the legislation that we have all worked on to have special victims counsel for every single victim that we already passed in this body. yes, i would. >> why is not taking the commander out of the loop nobody seems to think is going to help the problem because you can't solve the problem in the military unless they commander buys in. i can't think of any change in the military that is major and substantial that could happen without the chain of command being held accountable and buying in and i would like to say this. to those who believe that our military is set up for a victims cases never heard because you have some dissident figure as
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commander in ages but the stuff under the rug. 06 level commanders are special flag officers. it is not rampant in the military folks were it check will go to a commander and say this is a case that needs to be prosecuted sir madam and the commander says i don't want to fool with this. the opposite is true where the j.a.g. will say tough and the commander says move forward. what have we done here? we have set to the command that if your judge advocate recommends prosecution in the four areas in question sexual assault in the commander refuses to prosecute that decision is appealed to the secretary of service. if you're wondering about rogue commanders and they are bad commanders. your indicting the whole chain of command here. this is why i'm so emotional about this. your indicting a group who
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deserve to get praise. the bottom line of the commander refuses -- may i ask for one minute? two minutes. >> one minute. without objection. >> if the commander refuses the j.a.g.s recommendation and goes to the secretary of service at the jack in the commander does say this is not a case who want to prosecute in the area of sexual assault it goes to the commander's commander said there is built-in checks and balances. the key to fixing this problem is the commander. the key to maintaining a well-run military is the commander. the key to finding -- fighting and wending wars is the commander. the court-martialed panel the lawyers to judge the juries in the commander but the key to the american military success over time has been the commander. 800 trials in iraq and afghanistan since 9/11. this is a nondeployable military justice system that senator gillibrand is trying to create. please do not change the
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structure of the military because of this issue. fix this issue, preserve the structure of the military that has served us so well and keep reforming and to the senators i have named you have done military victims a great service. for gods sake members of the sentence do not change the structure of the military at the time we needed the most. hold up more accountable, not less. >> thank you madam president. >> eight yield my time to the senator from nevada. >> the senator from nevada. >> thank you madam president. i would first like to thank senators gillibrand, mccaskill,r for their hard work on this issue and my friend from south carolina who has worked passionatpassionat ely and hard on this issue also. as someone who strongly believes in bipartisanship i'm glad to
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see the senate moving forward today on debating and voting on this particular issue. while we may not all agree how to best solve this particular issue we can all agree that it's too important not to debate and ultimately vote on ways to address it. madam president are military is the greatest fighting force in the world, that the world has ever known. the freedoms we enjoy as americans are because men and women continue to volunteer to serve and to protect our nation. the vast majority of these men and women serve with honor and integrity however, there are a few bad actors in our military who commit crimes against their fellow servicemembers. the question the senate faces is whether or not the military justice system is equipped to properly handle sexual assault within the ranks. after careful consideration and weighing all the facts i feel
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the military today is not equipped and that is why i support senator gillibrand's approach. like everyone else in this chamber i'm disappointed we ever got to this point. no soldier should have their service degraded due to dishonorable conduct in the ranks that there have been ample opportunities for the military to address this issue within its own ranks and too much time has passed without this problem being results. it is congress's responsibility now to step in to protect the best america has to offer. congress needs to address what it is currently lacking for victims. victims need to feel confident in reporting crimes of sexual assault. victims must be protected from retaliation and victims must be confident that justice will be served. senator gillibrand's legislation will accomplish these goals. if the senate passes this bill today loopholes in the military
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structure will no longer be an option to protect sexual assailants. these changes are long overdue and will hold the military to the highest standard that they strive towards. i encourage the rest of my colleagues to join me in supporting our efforts in keeping our commitment to protecting the men and women who are honorably serving our nation. thank you madam president. >> madam president. >> a senator from new hampshire. >> i yield my time to senator mccaskill's time to the senator from nebraska. >> madam president. >> the senator from nebraska. >> thank you madam president. i rise to speak in full support of the ayotte ayotte mccaskill proposal before us today. it will only strengthen the historic reforms that have barred impasse by this oddity to combat sexually assaults in the military. elsa rice to express concerns with the gillibrand proposal to
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remove commanders from this process. because i believe that's going to undermine credibility and accountability. i am glad that we are having this debate on the floor because every member of the senate agrees that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. over the past year the members of the armed services committee have focused on this issue. it cuts across ideology across gender and across regions. also cuts across party lines. i was happy to work across the aisle was senator shaheen on improving standards for petter personnel responsible for sexual assault prevention and i was pleased to join with senator blumenthal to ensure that victims rights are protected under the uniform code of military justice. i would argue that our efforts to fight sexual assault shows congress had its best. it's how we are supposed to work although we may disagree we do share the same goals.
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senator mccaskill and senator gillibrand have both been real leaders in the senate armed services committee when we held that landmark hearing with their top commanders to explore the problem of sexual violence in the ranks last june. the committee received input from all sides and we along with our house colleagues passed a series of very meaningful reforms when they passed the national defense authorization act. those are reforms that we can all be proud of. we stripped the commanders of the ability to overturn the jury convictions and we may get retaliation against victims of crime. we require dishonorable discharge in our dismissal for those convicted of sexual assault. now we are trying to strengthen that and we are trying to strengthen those great reforms with the haskel ayotte and fisher legislation. i believe that our proposal will
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do more to strengthen the rights of victims and it will enhance the tools to prosecute the criminals. specifically our bill extends the current protections to service academies that is so important. that is in our bill. to boost a valuation standards for commanders also important. it allows for victims increased input, extremely important. so rather than revamping the entire military justice system which i believe kerry's massive risk our proposal improves and it updates the current system. unfortunately the gillibrand proposal i believe takes radical steps and it undermines the commanders responsibility for his or her troops. under that per postal almost all the crimes from forgery to sexual violence are removed from
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the commanders purview. it doesn't ring that focus to the challenge we are facing, and our proposal does. the other proposal that taxes the commander from his or her unit and removes all of responsibility. i do not want to remove the responsibility from a commander. we trust these people to watch our best and our brightest and our children and grandchildren as they go into battle. we need to trust them in this as well. senator mccaskill brings a wealth of experience to bear on this topic from her days as a prosecutor and i believe we should all be listening to her. she mentioned in november that the other proposal was seductively simple. i agree. i agree that it's simplicity
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holds a host of very very complex policy problems. she has invested a lot of time in this. she has explained the technical problems and i echo her concerns. but i would like to underline one critical point to my colleagues. you know many of our problems with the other proposal might appear to be minor procedural details however experience tells us that it's exactly these sorts of problems that can grind a justice system to a hault and can damage a legal system. that was the case in 2007 when congress armed with the best of intentions modified the statue. those hasty changes disrupted
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the judicial process and compelled congress to rewrite the language. and you know what happened? it delayed justice so i urge my colleagues and anyone interested in completely revamping the military justice system, you need to be certain that all the questions are resolved and you need to be certain that the implementation will be bulletproof because anything less means delayed justice or no justice at all for the victims. i can go on madam president and talk about the commission that brought forth their recommendations are that the justice remained with the commanders. they didn't say take it away, take it away from the commanders and the makeup of that commission mostly civilian and mostly female.
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i hope that my colleagues will remember these things, look at the facts, look at how we charlie can address the needs of the victims, charlie find them justice. support the mccaskill ayotte fischer proposal and i would ask that you not support the gillibrand proposal. thank you madam president. i yield. >> is senator from missouri. >> i yield five minutes to my friend from arizona senator mccain. >> is senator from arizona. >> i think is senator from missouri and profusely i want to thank her and senator ayotte and senator fischer for their leadership on this very difficult and emotional issue which obviously is very unpleasant and very controversial and understandably so. we are talking about the livelihood, the right to
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function as members of the military of women in the military. and it is a vital issue because there should be no organization that is at the level of the united states military for providing an equal opportunity and equal protection under the law than the united states military because when these young men and women joined the military they do something very unique and that is that they are willing to put their lives on the line for the defense of this country. and therefore because of this unique aspect of their lives that they are willing to serve for the benefit of the rest of us it's also the responsibility of those that command them and that is unique as well. those who command in the military may have to make the toughest decision of all to send these young people into harm's way. no other person in american society outside of the president
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of the united states has that responsibility so what we are really talking talking about here today is will we hold those commanders responsible for anything that happens within their command or will we take that responsibility and shift it over to a lawyer? that is what this is really all about. right now we have units operating in afghanistan. according, frankly according to the gillibrand proposal that there was a charge we may have to try to find some way to fly a lawyer in. i don't think that is either likely or agreeable. but the major point here is that we hold commanders responsible what happens under their command and if they don't carry out those duties then we relieve them of that command and if they are responsible for egregious conduct we prosecute them. madam president i have had the
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great honor of command. i have had the great honor of commanding at that time the largest squadron in the united states navy some 1000 people and there were a large number of women in that organization even then because it was a shore-based squadron. now we have women throughout, i'm happy to say throughout the military including combat roles and i can tell you that in those days we had severe racial problems in the united states military. we had a race riots on aircraft carriers and we held commanders responsible and we punished those who practice discrimination and we had cable in our chain of command that were responsible for the indoctrination and the good conduct of people who in any way showed a taint of discrimination. i'm happy to say that i believe
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the greatest equal opportunity organization in america today is the united states military. we can do that with this severe difficult and emotional issue of sexual assault in the military. the exact wrong way to do that is to make the commanding officer less responsible because if you take the responsibility from that commanding officer, then you are eroding his ability to lead. i would argue their ability to fight. we have the finest commanders in our military. we have the finest men and women who are serving in the military. we are the best military in the world and there is a reason for it because as we bring people up the ladder to fish visions of command they are tested time after time. i trust these commanders madam president. i trust them and with the provisions in the mccaskill bill as we have today we will preserve that command authority
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but we will also have significant increases in oversight and accountability. but to take away that responsibility from the men and women who command of these people, these outstanding men and women and give it to a lawyer is not the way to go and i hope my colleagues understand it. i also would ask one other thing before this vote. if any of my colleagues know a member of the military that they respect call them up. call them up and asked them whether they would think that this proposal from the senator from new york is in any way helpful to the good functioning of the military and the elimination of sexually assaults. we share the same goal and they are vastly different ways to achieve that goal. madam president i yield the floor. >> madam president. >> is senator from new york. >> i yield my time to the senator of hawaii for five minutes.
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>> madam president. >> is senator from hawaii. >> i rise today in support of the military justice improvement act. i want to commend senator gillibrand for her outstanding work on this effort and all the survivors of sexual assault in the military who have courageously worked with us on this bill. i appreciate the bipartisan effort to stop military assaults from happening. while the alton agree on how to get there i know that all of us want to stop this terrible scourge in our military. every few years when interest in this topic picks up it stays relevant for a while. the military leadership promises to stamp out sexual assault in
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the military and says that zero tolerance is a policy in place. unfortunately despite all the good faith actions taken by the department as well as congress we are still at 26,000 incidents of rape, sexual assault in the did sexual contact in the military. this bill has nothing to do with taking commanders -- telling commanders they are fired or they are morally bankrupt. they should continue to be held accountable for creating a command climate where sexually assaults it did not occur for certainly not occur by the tens of thousands. this bill is focused on the victims, the survivors of these crimes and when we listen to them they are in support of the gillibrand bill. we all agree that commanders are responsible for maintaining good order and discipline in their units. this includes creating an atmosphere of dignity and respect for everyone under their
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command. again commanders must create an environment where sexual crimes do not occur. our proposed changes to the military justice system do not absolve the commander of these responsibilities. it is still their job to prevent these crimes. it is still their job to maintain good order and discipline. i have heard opponents of this legislation say that good order and discipline with the loss if the commanders no longer has the court-martial disposition authority. i disagree. this is not to save corporal sergeant or junior officer in the unit would not act in a professional and orderly manner with respect to their commander because the commanders no longer can decide whether to proceed to trial for a rape or other felony level offenses. the commander is still responsible for doling out punishment for insubordination or other negative behavior.
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the commander is still responsible for maintaining the kind of good order and discipline a command climate where these crimes do not occur in the first place. historically when changes to the status quo are proposed in these include the integration of military units, opening military specialties to women and allowing and to serve openly a familiar refrain from senior military to block -- such changes would claim that the good changes would destroy good order and discipline. by all accounts i would say that these successful changes to military policies did not destroy good order and discipline. when these crimes to occur survivors deserve the ability to seek justice. they deserve a chain of command that will take these claims seriously and take appropriate action. we have data that shows that many victims do not come forward the cause they do not trust that
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the chain of command within the current system will act impartially. they feel that they might suffer retaliatory actions and ultimately did not report the crime. this allows the perpetrator to go free and commit additional crimes. the gillibrand bill will increase trust and confidence in the system and help the survivors seek justice. it is time to make fundamental changes to how sexual assault cases are handled in the military. senator gillibrand's bill would be a big step in the right direction. her amendment would take the decision to go forward with a trial out of the chain of command and place it in the hands of an experienced military lawyer. this change would improve the judicial process by increasing transparency, by increasing trust. it would also eliminate potential bias and conflicts of interest because unlike the commanding officer the military lawyer would be unconnected to
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either the survivor or the accused. i want to commend our colleaguer gillibrand and senator mccaskill for their tireless efforts to help survivors of sexual assault in the military. i would also like to commend senator levin armed services committee colleague and many other senators for working so hard on this difficult and painful issue. we have instituted many positive changes in this area but i urge my colleagues to take the next step and support the gillibrand military justice improvement act. i yield back. >> madam president. >> the senator from alaska. >> madam president i ask major major -- unanimous consent. thank you madam president.
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i join my colleagues today in discussion about an issue that i think we all would agree is an issue that really tears at the heart, causes great anguish as we think that those who have almond. to serve our great nation that have agreed to put themselves on the front lines, that they would e. in a situation where they would he made a victim, made a victim of a military sexual assault and be put in a situation where they don't know where to turn. they don't know if it is safe to speak up. they don't know how to respond. our military and women i think we are proud to say are the most professional, the most highly trained and skilled and qualified. we will match them against any and yet when we race these very
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troubling and difficult issues of military sexual assault it is an underside of the military culture that we have not been able to sufficiently address and eradicate. madam president the most recent report on the defense department sexual assault speaks to the statistics in these to take stakes have been reported so frequently on the floor of the united states senate. we know it and we share that and we agonize over that the 26,000, an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and assaults occurred and fy2013, 37% increase from fy2011. 25% of them who received is sexual contact reported the offender was someone within their military chain of command.
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and then madam president the statistics that really go to the heart of what we are talking about here today across the services 74% of females in 60% of males received one or more barriers to reporting the sexual assault. 50% of male victim stated they did not report the crime because they believe that nothing would be done. they have been victimized once and now they don't believe that anything will happen. they don't believe that anything will be done with the report. 62 or send victims who reported sexual assault indicated they receive some form of social lord ministry differ tallies in. retaliation from a system that they have been trained to trust, to be there for one another and now fear of retaliation. this report was such an eye-opener for many of us and it
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certainly has galvanized the issue to address where we are today to truly put on the front burner of this body the issue of what has happened with the military sexual assault and what we can do to address it. it has remained on the front burner thanks to the persistent efforts of the senator from new york to keep it there. she has relentlessly pursued the vote that we will take today but regardless of its outcome i think that she should take pride and i think we should all take pride in what we have collectivcollectiv ely accomplish and i also want to note the very fine work of my colleagues from missouri senator mccaskill and her efforts along with senator ayotte and senator fischer -- fischer and yourself madam chair to bring this issue to a level where we have seen changes that have been made already but the question that remains, is there more that can be done? this congress has sufficiently
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and significantly improved the military justice system included in the national defense authorization act. the services have done their part in looking for ways to improve their sexual assault and prevention programs like making sure that a naval academy midshipmen need not be dr. and across the state of missouri searching for a hospital that has a sexual assault nurse examiner on duty. in my state of alaska the headlines over the past year as a related to military sexual assault within the ranks of our national guard units stunned us all. i just recently received a further briefing from our adjutant general in the alaska national guard in terms of what they too are doing to address within their own system the changes that are absolutely necessary. the question madam president is
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whether or not these changes will move the needle on the statistics that we just recited. it is in my view remains to be seen. will they give the victims more confidence in the system? will they deter offenders by increasing the certainty that there is going to be accountability if these acts are taken? so today the senate considers the military justice improvement act a measure that i think provides victims with the certainty that they need to have confidence in the system. if you don't believe the system is going to be there for you, if you don't believe it's going to work for you, you're not going to report it. you are not going to expose yourself again. as i sat said on the senate floor before this is strong medicine. it is very strong medicine. to any offender that believes the good old boy system would permit him to escape the consequences of his actions.
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in my judgment the enactment of the military justice improvement act will lead to greater consistency. this is again a very important aspect. it will ensure that those decisions are based on the facts and the law and not an external factor. that two offers and incremental protection to victims as well as to the offenders. the current system of military judgment roof -- relies upon the individual decisions of commanders for a decision on whether or not offenses are to be punished in which charges are to be brought. we recognize we have a complex military and there are many camps and while our code of military justice may be uniform recent history suggests that its implementation is an orchard only anything but uniform. some have called the gillibrand
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proposal a radical solution and one that will make it impossible to maintain good order and discipline in the military. madam president, i don't buy that. these were some of the statements that were made several years back when we were considering don't ask don't tell just about three years ago. the military has proven it is resilient enough to implement culture change and that is what this will take is culture change. i believe that they are resilient enough to implement a change of this magnitude and it will be resilient enough to implement the military justice improvement act. it is not a radical and novel solution to a difficult problem. in fact many of our allied modern military has moved a decision on whether to prosecute sexual assault outside the chain of command. they have done it. i believe that it is high time
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we do it as well. again madam president i commend those who have led so nobly on this effort to make sure that when those fine men and women stand to serve our country fair is ensured a level of justice, a level of uniformity of justice and that we no longer see the devastating statistics that we have unfortunately been faced with for far too long. with that madam president i yield the floor. >> madam chair. >> the senator from new york. >> can i ask that i be notified when seven minutes are remaining? >> the senator has four and a half minutes remaining. >> i note the absence of a quorum. >> the clerk will call the roll.
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>> the senator from new york. >> the senate is in a quorum call. >> i asked lukewarm call be vitiated. all the documents we have heard today are technical arguments, arguments about why we can't possibly do this but the victims and survivors of sexual assault have been walking this congress for more than a year asking that we do something to protect them, to give them hope for justice and it's not whether anyone in this chamber chest the chain of command. the people that do not trust the chain of command are the victims even general amos has admitted that. he says the reason why the
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female marine does not come forward is because she does not trust the chain of command. that reach of trust, that fundamental breach of trust has been broken for victims of sexual assault. listen to the victims. retired marine lance corporal are progressed was drugged, he was raped. he got his perpetrator to tell what happened on tape, went through trial and his perpetrator got no jail time. he saw no justice for him and he said i joined the marines in order to serve my country is an honorable man. instead i was thrown away like a piece of garbage. he attempted suicide, survived and now advocates for this measure from a wheelchair. that is the story that a president that we are hearing from victims over and over again sarah plumb our u.s. marine corps said how does someone within your ct

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