Whatever it is, they’re against it

WHATEVER IT IS, THEY’RE AGAINST IT…. It’s tempting to think a measure like this one would pass unanimously. After all, it’s not as if voters would elect monsters to the Senate, right?

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.” (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

All Franken’s measure would do is allow victims of rape and discrimination to have their day in court — not exactly controversial stuff. When Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) accused Franken of pushing a “political attack directed at Halliburton,” the Minnesota senator explained that it would apply equally to all defense contractors.

The good news is, Franken’s measure passed, 68 to 30.

The bad news is, 30 Senate Republicans — 75% of the entire Republican Senate caucus — voted against this.

Perhaps I should be thankful that 10 GOP senators voted with the majority — by contemporary standards, I suppose that’s a lot — but what possible rationale could three-fourths of the Republican Senate caucus have for voting against this?

Let’s not overlook the larger context here. Democrats are expected to try to find “bipartisan” support on practically everything. Some GOP lawmakers think health care reform isn’t “legitimate” if it doesn’t have 80 votes.

And yet, when the Senate considered a measure yesterday to give rape victims who work for U.S.-subsidized defense contractors a day in court, 30 out of 40 Republican senators said, “No.”

The notion that the majority should be able to reach constructive, worthwhile compromises with this minority is clearly ridiculous.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation