WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came up five votes short in her year-long push to advance legislation aimed at cracking down on sexual assaults in the military.
"We know that the deck is stacked against victims of sexual assault in the military today, and today, sadly, we saw the same in the halls of Congress," said Sen. Gillibrand, D-New York.
Her bill would have drastically overhauled the military justice system, stripping commanders of the power to decide whether to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes, and putting the decision in the hands of military prosecutors.
The vote was a nail biter. Gillibrand needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. She got 55, with members backing, and even abandoning her, in the moments leading up to the vote. Her opponents, who support a more modest bill, proved too powerful to defeat.
Even though the bill is dead for now, Gillibrand insists her fight is not. She says she plans to lobby her colleagues and then push for another vote, perhaps later this year.
"Many people said to me, Kirsten, I'm going to watch this. If it doesn't get better in the next six months, I'm with you next time," said Gillibrand.
While Gillibrand did not win on the Senate floor, she may have come out on top politically.
Her push to assemble a coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans made her a star - so much so that's she's now mentioned as a future presidential candidate.
"There is not a member of this body that she has not pigeonholed and argued and pleaded and used every persuasive force possible to try to round up those votes," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Gillibrand's colleagues know she's not even close to being done.