Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will support Sen. Kristen Gillibrand’s proposal to change the way sexual assaults are prosecuted in the military, going against the views of others in his party, including Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin.
“I will support Gillibrand, and Sen. Levin knows that,” Mr. Reid told reporters.
Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal, which would strip commanders of their ability to prosecute military crimes like sex assault to improve the fairness of the process and reduce retaliation, has divided the Democratic Party.
Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, have both spoken out publicly against Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Ms. Gillibrand received public support from 47 senators — not enough to surpass the 60 vote threshold that will likely be necessary to pass the amendment. It’s unclear whether Mr. Reid’s support will bring any votes with it, but could sway undecided Democrats.
Mr. Reid went on to say that he hopes the Senate will be able to wrap up debate on Ms. Gillibrand’s amendment to the defense policy bill on Wednesday. The other major pending fight is over whether to relax rules that would let President Obama transfer suspected terrorist detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
“I hope that we can get today the debate out of the way on Guantanamo, two votes, hope we can get that done before the night’s out,” he said. “Then I hope tomorrow we can do the sexual assault debate between Gillibrand and McCaskill and others.”