Sen. Al Franken has found a sure-fire way to rile his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill -- and keep them riled: Force them to cast a vote that pits corporate interests against victims of rape. "Partisan," complained Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma. "Daily Kos-inspired," carped John Thune, of South Dakota. And that was just the other day. They voted in October.
Back story: Franken was outraged over the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, a Halliburton employee who alleges she was gang-raped by others in the company while posted in Baghdad. Terms of her employment required that she submit to arbitration in the case; she couldn't sue for workplace discrimination or sexual assault. Here's what he said on the Senate floor:
Her pleas for safer housing were ignored. Four days after her arrival, Ms. Jones was drugged and gang raped. She requested medical attention, and a doctor administered a rape kit. Parts of that rape kit have since mysteriously disappeared. After Ms. Jones reported the rape to her supervisors, she was locked in a shipping container with an armed guard and prohibited from any contact with the outside world. They locked her in a container?!? It was only after she convinced one of the guards to lend her a cell phone that she was able to talk to her father, who enlisted the help of Representative Ted Poe, a Republican congressman from Texas, to arrange for her safe return to the United States. (Full text here.)
In response, Minnesota's junior senator authored an amendment to a military spending bill in October that bans the Pentagon from doing business with corporations that prevent employees from suing their employers in cases of sexual assault. Republicans were outraged: Here comes another case of the federal government meddling in the affairs f free enterprise.
The DFLer's amendment passed on Oct. 6, 68-30, and Politico reports
that some of the 30 Republicans who opposed the measure are still sore about the whole episode: Their opponents back home are casting them as pro-rape. A Web site, RepublicansforRape.org, lampoons their position. Jon Stewart
, Rachel Maddow
and others have had a field day with the vote. And the GOP senators in question have even called on Franken
to defend them.