Senate Blocks Gillibrand's Military Sexual-Assault Bill (Updated) (Video)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:04 p.m. | The Senate narrowly blocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to remove prosecutorial decisions for military sexual assaults and other felonies from the chain of command.  

The measure failed to advance on a 55-45 vote, five short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate. Seventeen of the chamber's 20 women voted aye, while men opposed the measure 42-38.  

Senators on both sides of the debate — which has not split along party lines  — knew the vote on the New York Democrat's legislation would be close. Gillibrand said earlier Thursday morning that she was "hopeful" her side would have the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster hurdle.  

"Today too many ... members of the Senate have turned their back on these victims and survivors," of sexual assault, Gillibrand said. "As painful as today's vote is, our struggle on behalf of these brave men and women will go on."  

Gillibrand said she thinks her effort will continue to gain momentum going forward, though she noted that a couple of senators who had co-sponsored her measure voted against cloture.  

That's a reference to Delaware Democrat Thomas R. Carper and Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk. Fellow Navy man Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., could be seen with Kirk in the well of the chamber during the vote, and McCain could be heard saying "Anchors Aweigh," the title of the Naval Academy fight song.  

Republicans Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming apparently hadn't publicly committed, but voted with Gillibrand .  

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has vast experience as a military lawyer, said a vote in favor of the Gillibrand proposal could come back to haunt to GOP presidential aspirants in the Senate.  

"People wanting to run for president on our side, I will remind you of this vote. You want to be commander in chief? You told me a a lot today about who you are as commander in chief," Graham said. "You were willing to fire every commander in the military for reasons I don't quite understand. So we will have a good conversation as to whether or not you understand how the military actually works."