Military sexual assault bill heads for Senate vote

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is voting Thursday on legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military by stripping senior commanders of their authority to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses.

The bill is firmly opposed by the Pentagon's leadership, which argues officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the troops they lead.

A solid majority of the Senate backs the bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, illustrating the deep frustration among Republicans and Democrats over the military's failure to stem the epidemic of sexual assaults in the ranks.

Gillibrand, however, will likely need 60 votes to clear a filibuster. Her office is optimistic she will get the support needed.

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