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Ernst, Grassley, Gillibrand Secure Bipartisan Support from Over 60 Senators for Bill to Prevent Military Sexual Assault, Hold Perpetrators Accountable

The bill now has filibuster-proof support that includes the majority of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a survivor of sexual assault and a former commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y), and their colleagues announced that they have secured 61 bipartisan cosponsors — the critical threshold needed for passage of the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act.

The broadly bipartisan legislation would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision to prosecute from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. The bill also provides for several new prevention provisions, such as more and better training for commanders and increased physical security measures, while ensuring that commanders still have the ability to provide strong leadership and a successful command climate.

“After working together with Democrats and Republicans, we’ve written a new, bipartisan bill that will bolster sexual assault prevention efforts; hold perpetrators accountable while ensuring commanders still have visibility of their unit; and equip military prosecutors with the skills necessary to handle these sensitive cases. Gaining this overwhelming support for our bill is a critical step in making it law. I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support to strengthen our fighting force and ensure all servicemembers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.” said Senator Ernst.

“Sixty cosponsors puts our effort over an important hurdle in the Senate and vindicates years of work to secure justice for military survivors. It’s utterly unacceptable that so many of those who serve our country in uniform have dealt with a system that’s broken. The hard work of our coalition, especially Senator Gillibrand, has brought us to the cusp of passage. This is finally the year we will be able to deliver change,” said Senator Grassley.

“This is a defining moment. Since I first started working to reform military justice in 2013 we have twice been blocked by the filibuster standard of 60 votes, despite having a majority of the Senate in support. Now, with the help of Senators Grassley, Ernst, and Blumenthal, we have secured the critical support needed to deliver justice to survivors of sexual assault and other serious crimes in our military,” said Senator Gillibrand. “For decades, sexual assault in our military has been an uncontrolled epidemic hurting readiness, recruitment, and morale. This common sense legislation will ensure that the justice system works for all service members and enact measures to help prevent sexual assault across our armed forces. I am proud to lead my colleagues in the fight to pass this bipartisan legislation — it’s clear we have the momentum to get it done.”

The full list of Senate co-sponsors includes: Gillibrand (D-NY), Grassley (R-IA), Ernst (R-IA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Baldwin (D-WI), Van Hollen (D-MD), King (I-ME), Braun (R-IN), Durbin (D-IL), Shaheen (D-NH), Duckworth (D-IL), Bennet (D-CO), Paul (R-KY), Coons (D-DE), Kelly (D-AZ), Leahy (D-VT), Padilla (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Hirono (D-HI), Warren (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Cruz (R-TX), Klobuchar (D-MN), Feinstein (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Lummis (R-WY), Peters (D-MI), Capito (R-WV), Kaine (D-VA), T. Smith (D-MN), Casey (D-PA), Warnock (D-GA), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tuberville (R-AL), Heinrich (D-NM), Brown (D-OH), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Warner (D-VA), Collins (R-ME), Booker (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Tester (D-MT), Cassidy (R-LA), Ossoff (D-GA), Schatz (D-HI). Sanders (I-VT), Murkowski (R-AL), Stabenow (D-MI), Markey (D-MA), Cardin (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Lujan (D-NM), Cantwell (D-WA), Blunt (R-MO), Barrasso (R-WY), Fischer (R-NE), Cramer (R-ND), Rosen (D-NV) ), Hawley (R-MO), Moran (R-KS), and Marshall (R-KS).

For more info on the bill and Senator Ernst’s work to combat sexual assault in the military, click here.

Senator Ernst also wrote an op-ed in The Hill on the landmark legislation.