U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri says one of her priorities when Congress reconvenes in September is to approve legislation reducing sexual assaults in the military. While McCaskill explained accomplishing the task is a team effort, she said there is one primary disagreement with her fellow Democratic colleagues.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillebrand from New York wants to take prosecuting decisions away from commanders while McCaskill, on the other hand, wants it to be handled through the chain of command, with more accountability.
McCaskill calls the disagreement an honest one. “Together, we have forced the Pentagon to acknowledge that the status quo is not acceptable, and there are big changes going on in the Pentagon right now. Long overdue, but it’s happening,” McCaskill said.
She said reforms will be in place by the end of the year.
Among the other topics she discussed with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh were:
- U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war
- Possible U.S. Senate passage of a budget
- The effects of sequestration
- How the Affordable Care Act will impact Missourians and 600 new jobs coming to Wentzville as a result
- The problem of the rigid ideology in Congress
- The rising price of pharmaceuticals
- Nuclear waste in the West Lake Landfill
Following are excerpts of what Senator McCaskill had to say on some of the topics.
On Passing a Budget in the Senate
"Well I do think there are a number of Republicans in the Senate who understand that we have to compromise. I’ve got some of my colleagues who don’t think we can cut another dime from the budget. They are wrong. I’ve got some colleagues who think the government is the enemy and the sooner we bring it to its knees the better. They are wrong...We need a glide path to less spending. We do need to do some entitlement reform... I want us to come to the table and compromise. And I think the looming possibility of a government shutdown will help us to do that. "
On U.S. Involvement in the civil war in Syria
"What we don’t want to do is embolden our enemies and, most importantly, arm our enemies. And in Syria it has been very difficult to tell who is in charge of the opposition forces. Al Qaeda has certainly moved into a vacuum all over the Middle East where there are these fledgling democracies...The reluctance was not that we didn’t want to help remove Assad, but rather the unintended consequences of coming in in a way that wasn’t really thoughtful and strategic....We are arming the opposition now, we do have more confidence that what we’re doing is going to the right places for the right reasons…The big problem in the Syria situation is Russia. The rockets, the preliminary reports are that these were rockets that were provided by the Russians that indicated this lethal gas. If the facts turn out to be the way the initial reporting indicates, then we have a big problem with Russia."
On the Affordable Care Act
"I think people are forgetting why we did this. The reason this happened is more and more small businesses were having to no longer give insurance because they can’t afford it, and more and more people were turning up at the emergency room for free care, because we don’t turn people away."
On the Nuclear Waste at the West Lake Landfill
“Well, I will certainly call for anything that will make your neighborhoods safe and liveable and secure for everyone who lives there. And that is what we have to do. I have met with the regional administrator for the EPA about this. Obviously Senator Blunt and I have been both been working together to try to advocate for all of you that feel a great deal of frustration. Part of the problem is that the testing that has been done has said one thing, and the sense in the neighborhood says the exact opposite. And that is where you’ve got to push things beyond maybe where the testing would indicate.”