Gillibrand pushing forward with "significant" military sexual assault measure

After her bipartisan proposal to remove military commanders from the decision to prosecute allegations of sexual assaults within their units was stripped from a larger defense bill, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., says she will push forward with the measure on the Senate floor.

"This is a very significant reform, one most of my colleagues aren't ready to make yet," Gillibrand told CBS News's Nancy Cordes in an interview.

Gillibrand is one of the authors of a bill that was aimed to give the decision to prosecute to a military prosecutor, not a unit commander. The Senate Armed Services Committee rejected that proposal, and instead backed a plan by the committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would instead review any decisions by commanders not to prosecute sexual assault cases.

The New York Democrat was undeterred, saying that most victims of sexual assault want the process fixed.

Why do military sexual assault victims stay silent? Gillibrand explains

"We want to take that one decision point out of the chain of command, because what victims tell us over and over again is that they're not reporting because of that. They don't want to report because of the fear of retaliation or being blamed or being marginalized and they say they don't report because that decision is within in the chain of command," said Gillibrand.

But Levin, backed by the top military brass, argued that the military chain of command should be not changed. After a contentious hearing with the military brass last week on this issue, Gillibrand appeared on "Face the Nation" on Sunday to press for changes to the way sexual assaults are handled in the military.

"It is a serious problem. These are serious crimes. And what the victims tell us across the board, is that they're afraid to report because of retaliation, because they've seen other women be retaliated against, or they feel that they'll either be marginalized and their careers will be over, or they'll be blamed. And so until you have transparency, accountability and objectivity, where the decision maker of whether you're going to trial or not, is an objective prosecutor, not a commander, you're not going to have the kind of reporting and, frankly, justice that we need in the system," she told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.

"And until you see justice being done, until you see accountability in the system, you will not be able to change the culture. This is a cultural problem. It's from top to bottom. And that's why you need to see a major shift," she said.

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.