Sen. Moran answers criticism on blocking amendment on military sexual assaults

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Sen. Jerry Moran blocked a plan to curb sexual assaults in the military -- an action that frustrated his fellow senators Monday.

"This is a sad day for the U.S. Senate," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) "We are telling those victims that the deck is stacked against them right here in the United States Senate too."

In an interview with KAKE News on Tuesday, Moran said sexual assaults are a problem, and he does support the amendment to a current bill in the Senate.

More than 26,000 military men and women reported being victims of sexual assault last year -- nearly double of reports from the year before.

Moran said his actions on Monday, however, were to support an additional amendment that was struck down -- an amendment that would impose U.S. sanctions on Iran.

"Every day that goes by, Iran is becoming a greater threat, not only to the Middle East but to the United States," he said.

Wichita State professor Melvin Kahn said Moran's actions are a common practice among politicians. Yet, Kahn said things could backfire.

"Moran sees that the democrats very much want this and so he's hoping that they will cave in and go along with his preferred policy," Kahn said.

President Obama has said that he would strike down any additional sanctions on Iran, which Kahn said would make Moran's actions moot.

"If the democrats don't budge on it, it would still go through because there's an election coming up in just a few months and the republicans very much want to take back the senate and this could alienate a lot of women," he said.

Yet, Moran said that's not his goal and that he understands the importance of addressing sexual assaults.

"We will be further down the road in protecting the lives and well-being of women who protect our country," he said, about the adoption of the amendment. "We will do a better job of protecting those who protect us."

As of Tuesday, Moran said both amendments are up for consideration. Late this week, discussion will be open on Iran sanctions. Next week, the senate will address military sexual assaults.

"The goal being that those who serve in our military feel more secure in their service to our country," he said. "They feel less threatened and if something that we hope never happens does happen, that they feel comfortable that the military, the American people, the process is on their side and to see that justice is done."

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