Broad overhaul of military justice system being sidelined in favor of narrower focus on sexual assault

By Karoun Demirjian: For Complete Post, click here…

A widely popularproposal to force sweeping changes in how the military prosecutes felony crimes is likely to be left out of this year’s defense authorization bill, according to people familiar with the matter, ending for now what advocates called watershed legislation for equal justice in favor of a competing plan that focuses more narrowly on sexual assault and related offenses.

The proposal to establish an independent authority to determine when charges should be filed for numerous crimes wasspearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). For years, she has promoted this approach as the best way to dissociate the military justice system from the biases of commanders and ensure crime victims — particularly women and minorities — cannot be silenced or denied justice by their superiors.

Gillibrand’s legislation struck a rare sweet spot in congressional politics this year, winning the support of most Democrats and a broad coalition of Republicans, and clear majorities in the Senate and the House. But last-minute procedural setbacks, coupled with resistance from the Pentagon, have sapped the momentum it previously enjoyed.

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