14 October 2009

A new low: Senate Republicans voted in favor of loophole for rapists

Senator Al Franken took no time at all to prove that he is more than just a comedian. When he was finally sworn in to his Senate seat, he hit the ground running.

One of his noteworthy actions in his short tenure was his amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. As Think Progress described it, Franken's amendment "would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR 'if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.'"

This stems from the case of Jamie Lee Jones, a former employee of Dick Cheney's Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was brutally gang-raped by her co-workers and then thrown into a shipping container, where she suffered for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed. Her assailants warned her that if she sought medical treatment, she would lose her job.

To add insult to injury, Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR due to a mandatory arbitration clause in her employment contract. And these arbitration situations so often seem biased towards corporate interests.

So Franken's amendment seems like a good way to hold employees accountable for felonies like the one that those KBR guys committed against Ms. Jones, right?

Fortunately, the majority thought so, as the amendment passed on October 6 by a vote of 68-30. But apparently 30 senators, all Republicans, disagreed. Believe it or not, they voted to defend the existing loophole through which it's so hard to hold workplace rapists accountable.

And, ironically, most of them call themselves "Christian".

Go figure.

Remember their names when they are next up for reelection:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

(Yes, it's that McCain. Be grateful for last November's presidential election results.)

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