Count me in the number as one who thought Al Franken being a senator was a joke. Â I was sure that Minnesota would be shown as fools for allowing this jester into the Senate. Â However, Franken may have justÂ guaranteedÂ the Democrats a continued Senate Majority after the 2012 elections by giving Republicans the chance to seemingly vote against justice.
Two weeks ago Franken added an amendment to the defense appropriation bill that passed in the Senate. Â Franken’s amendment passed to no longer allow government contracts to companies who prevent employees from filing lawsuits against them for sexualÂ harassmentÂ or assault. Franken put in this amendment after learning of the case of Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones claims to have been gang-raped in 2005 Â by employees of KBR – a division of Halliburton – in Iraq. Â Jones says she was even temporarily locked in a room, so that she would not tell of her rape. Jones has attempted to take the company to court, until they pointed out that she signed a contract of employment thatÂ guaranteedÂ such a case must be handled in private arbitration.
Here is 20/20 video of Jones’ case:
Franken wanted something to be done and his amendment to the bill prohibits
â€œthe use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.â€
The amendment passed easily 68-30. Â TenÂ RepublicansÂ voted for it, however 30 Senate Republicans voted against this bill. Â And quite frankly, that just looks horrible. There is no doubt that any of those Senators who face reelection bids in 2012 or beyond will have this vote thrown back at them. Politico points out that Democratic strategists already believe it will hurt two key battles for Senate seatsâ€“ Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
Democrats, the Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, and Jon Stewart are already jumping all over these Senators for this vote. Â The Republican Senators have explained that their vote comes from the wishes of both the Defense Department and the US Chamber of Commerce. Â Their concern is focused on too much government control over business operations. Â Some saw Franken specifically mentioning Â Halliburton in the amendment as just a way to attack a company that has often been the target of the Left.
All that aside, this was just a bad vote. Â Those Republicans could have easily voiced their concern over the wording and still voted for it. Â When it all comes down to it, they appear to be voting against protecting an innocent woman from defending herself against gang rape. Now I wholeheartedly believe that all 30 of those Senators think rape victims should get justice. However, their hearts simply do not show in their votes. Â I have no problem with arbitration in many cases in business – but when it comes to a criminal act like rape – that needs to go to court. Â And I do not think it is wrong for the government to say they won’t do business with a company that is not allowing rape victims to take their case to court.
This whole amendment battle reeks of the problem of power in politics. Â I believe if you put politics aside, all 30 of those Senators would have voted differently. Â And that’s what makes this whole thing sad. Â They would do well to remember the words of Jesus:
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
Jones deserves justice. Â And regardless of Franken’s previous ill feelings toward Halliburton, this amendment had enough merits to pass. I hope the 30 Senators will apologize for letting politics trump common sense. If they don’t, their careers may end up being the only joke here.