By Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, Posted on December 22, 2009.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/144740/
FRANKEN AMENDMENT BECOMES LAW.... In October, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed a key amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Yesterday, it was signed into law.
Motivated by the harrowing violence Jamie Leigh Jones suffered in 2005 while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, Franken pushed a measure to withhold defense contracts from companies that "restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." Franken's measure passed, 68 to 30. The 30 opponents -- representing 75% of the entire GOP Senate caucus -- were Republican men.
There were some implantation questions from the Pentagon, but after some additional efforts, and overcoming a Republican filibuster, Franken's measure became law after President Obama signed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act over the weekend.
Digby had a good take on this.
The reason I think it's good news isn't just on the substance (which it certainly is) but on the politics. Franken's amendment is driving the Republicans crazy because they basically voted to protect rapists and are now paying a political price for that. And now they are whining that Franken was somehow "uncollegial" because the amendment put them in an embarrassing position (which makes me wonder how many other things issues are swept under the rug because it would make members of the opposition uncomfortable.)
That's the kind of thing the Democrats should do more of. Expose the Republicans' hypocrisy and cruelty by forcing these issues on to the agenda.
Remember, Republicans can barely contain their outrage over this -- Franken proposed a common-sense measure; it passed easily; and opponents of the amendment have faced some severe criticicism as a result. "The nerve of that guy," conservative senators keep saying.
For his part, this is Franken's first key legislative success. Here's to many more like it.
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."