• Senate Kills Amendment To Directly Arm Anti-ISIS Force

    As the Senate nears passing the annual defense policy bill, two key amendments were struck down on Tuesday.

    Amendments to directly arm Iraqi-Kurdish forces against the Islamic State and reform the military justice system failed to pass, reports Defense One.

    Sponsored by Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican Joni Ernst, the amendment to arm Kurdish forces fell six votes short, amid criticisms from the White House and Iraqi government.

    “The Administration is not required to act, but the amendment provides the President authorization to do so if he feels the situation warrants it to respond to ISIS, who is gaining momentum on the battlefield,” said Ernst, in a statement to Defense One.

    The Obama administration and Iraqi officials say it would violate the country’s sovereignty. But Ernst said the Kurds are key force in battling the Islamic State, the jihadi group with territory spanning Iraq and Syria.

    An amendment to reform the military justice system, taking away the power of commanders to serve as “convening authority” during court cases, also failed to pass, reports Defense One’s Molly O’Toole:

    In a passionate speech on the floor, Gillibrand reminded that the military had promised progress, at the behest of President Obama. But the Pentagon acknowledges no progress has been made on retaliation for reporting the crimes, and Gillibrand noted the rate of sexual assault is at the same levels it was five years ago, with some 50 sexual assaults occurring each day in the military, on average.

    The Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the defense bill Thursday.

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