It is stunning that 30 Republican members of the United States Senate would vote to protect a corporation, in this case Halliburton/KBR, over a woman who was gang raped. The details from Think Progress:
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.
Offering Ms. Jones legal relief was Senator Al Franken of Minnesota who offered 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.”
Seems simple enough. And yet, to GOP Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama allowing victims of sexual assault a day in court is tantamount to a “political attack” at Halliburton. That 29 others, all men, chose to join him in opposing the Franken amendment is simply mind-boggling.
In the debate, Senator Sessions maintained that Franken’s amendment overreached into the private sector and suggested that it violated the due process clause of the Constitution.
To which, Senator Franken fired back quoting the Constitution. “Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gives Congress the right to spend money for the welfare of our citizens. Because of this, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, ‘Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds and has repeatedly employed that power to further broad policy objectives,'” Franken said. “That is why Congress could pass laws cutting off highway funds to states that didn’t raise their drinking age to 21. That’s why this whole bill [the Defense Appropriations bill] is full of limitations on contractors — what bonuses they can give and what kind of health care they can offer. The spending power is a broad power and my amendment is well within it.”
God I love it when Senator Franken quotes the Constitution. Not every Republican was so clueless. Ten voted for the Franken amendment including the GOP’s female contingent of Senators (Snowe, Collins, Hutchinson and Murkowski).
“We need to put assurances into the law that those kind of instances [the Jamie Leigh Jones case] are not capable of being repeated,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted in favor of Franken’s amendment. “I want to make sure that a woman, any individual who is a victim of a terrible act, knows that they have got protections.”
Murkowski said that she considered the arguments that Sessions made about the amendment being too expansive before she decided to vote for the legislation.
“I looked at it,” said Murkowski. “And, I tell you, you look at some of the things we do and you have to say, ‘OK, you have a specific instance we’re trying to address and does this go above and beyond?’ But when you have to err on the side of protecting an individual, I erred on the side of greater generosity, I guess.”
Republican Sen. George LeMieux of Florida echoed some of Murkowski’s sentiments.
“I can’t see in any circumstance that a woman who was a victim of sexual assault shouldn’t have her right to go to court,” LeMieux said. “So, that is why I voted for it.”
Although Franken chatted up LeMieux on the Senate floor before the vote, LeMieux said that he had already made his decision. But, LeMieux added, Franken’s talk didn’t hurt.
“I had decided to vote for it before I came here, but I was happy to hear his argument for it,” LeMieux said. “He did what a senator should do, which was he was working it. He was working for his amendment.” I’ll add, Al Franken is everything a United States Senator should be.
As for Jamie Leigh Jones, she was nothing but elated and thankful. “It means the world to me,” Jones said of the amendment’s passage. “It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it.”
And for the GOP, it is a new low.
spotted by RS