Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have joined an upstart effort to remove the chain of command from military sexual assault cases, POLITICO has learned.

The tea party favorites give the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, critical conservative cover as she battles the Pentagon and hawks in both parties on her proposal to create a new prosecution system for major military crimes.

Paul is scheduled to attend a press conference Tuesday in the Capitol with Gillibrand and other bill backers, including Sens. Chuck Grassley and Barbara Boxer, to discuss his new position, which inches the New York Democrat closer to the 51 votes she hopes is all she’ll need when her proposal comes up for debate as early as next week.