WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and a group of bipartisan senators Tuesday renewed their call to pass her legislation to fundamentally change the military justice system, saying that recently implemented reforms haven't done enough to improve the handling of sexual assault cases.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the Military Justice Improvement Act's sponsor, said she has asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow her to either attach her measure to the Defense Authorization Act or to have an up-or-down floor vote on it as a stand-alone bill.
"I am working with leadership to try and get our vote between now and the end of the year," she said in an interview.
Reid has not said what he plans to do about the bill in the short time Congress remains in session before the year ends.
If Reid does not allow either option, Gillibrand would have to reintroduce it next year in the new Congress that will be controlled by Republicans.
Asked if she would block the Defense secretary nominee to get a vote, Gillibrand said she had not thought about it but would consider it. She also said she would consider asking President Barack Obama to take executive action to change the military justice system.
Gillibrand's bill would remove decisions on prosecuting sexual offenses from the chain of command and give the authority to military prosecutors.
Her news conference Tuesday featured retired Col. Don Christensen, who said he quit as chief prosecutor in the Air Force because he thought he could change the system on sexual assaults better from the outside than he could in uniform.
Gillibrand said she made a pitch at the Senate Democrats' lunch Tuesday, calling her bill "something of moral significance that demanded a vote."
Her bill has supporters and opponents in both parties.
In March, the Senate voted 55-45 for Gillibrand's bill, short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. "I'm also working with senators to see if I can get the last five votes I need to pass the reform," she said.