The ongoing importance of the Franken amendment

THE ONGOING IMPORTANCE OF THE FRANKEN AMENDMENT…. About a month ago, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed an important amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Inspired 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. But the fact that 30 white, male, Senate Republicans — 75% of the entire GOP Senate caucus — voted against the amendment continues to be a subject of political significance. (via Amanda Terkel)

Angry letters denouncing Republican senators have appeared in newspapers from Tennessee to Idaho. Unflattering videos of senators trying to explain their votes have gone viral on the Internet, including one of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) swatting away a hand-held video camera held by a liberal blogger questioning his vote against the amendment.

And Democratic strategists are salivating at the prospects of using the vote against the eight GOP senators who voted against the amendment and are up for reelection in 2010.

“I think anyone who voted against that has some tough explaining to do,” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told POLITICO. “And I think particularly some incumbents already in a challenged position — it can be very detrimental to them because women voters are going to look at that and wonder, ‘Does this senator stand on my side?'” […]

Privately, GOP sources acknowledge that they failed to anticipate the political consequences of a “no” vote on the amendment. And several aides said that Republicans are engaged in an internal blame game about why they agreed to a roll-call vote on the measure, rather than a simple voice vote that would have allowed the opposing senators to duck criticism.

BarbinMD added, “Seriously? They voted against an amendment that was prompted by the brutal gang-rape of a young woman by her co-workers while she was working for a company under contract for the United States government, after which she was locked in a shipping container without food or water, threatened if she left to seek medical treatment, and was then prevented from bringing criminal charges against her assailants. And they failed to anticipate the political consequences?”