Republicans still steamed over Franken's rape amendment


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,, 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.

Reached by the Strib's Kevin Diaz, Franken denied he was casting his opponents as pro-rape.