Senate Republicans Attack Franken's "Partisan", "Daily Kos" Anti-Rape Amendment

December 02, 2009 12:15 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Senate Republicans, who have been taking heat for fighting an amendment to protect rape victims, are now lashing out at Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for even proposing the measure in the first place.

In October, Franken introduced an amendment that would deny funding to defense contractors that "restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." Franken was inspired by the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, a former employee of KBR (previously a subsidiary of Halliburton), who "was gang raped by her co-workers" while stationed in Iraq.  When Jones returned to the U.S., KBR tried to prevent her from taking the case to court.  The measure to punish such practices passed, with 30 out of 40 Republicans voting against it. 

Today, Politico reports that conservative Senators blame Franken for the backlash they have faced.  Apparently, Franken isn't doing enough to defend those Republicans who fought his proposal to protect women like Jones.  Moreover, some of them say, the amendment was really just a "partisan" trap meant to embarrass the Republicans who opposed it:

"I don't know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won't see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in the Senate Republican leadership. "I think hopefully he'll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that's important to Minnesota."   [...]

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), who also voted against the amendment, said, "from what I know of" Franken, he "expected" such tactics. [...]

"It was partisan - and he knew it," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). "That's exactly what I'd expect."

Thune did not elaborate on why protecting victims of sexual assault isn't "serious work," nor did Coburn explain how a measure that garnered support from 10 Republicans -- a quarter of the caucus -- was "partisan."

For his part, Franken declined to comment for the article, but a spokesperson rejected the notion that the Senator was out to get the Republicans. The spokesperson said that Franken has turned down opportunities "to make a partisan argument about the matter" in the media, while also noting that he has already introduced four bills with Republican cosponsors since joining the Senate.   

If the Republicans have a legitimate argument to make, that's fine.  But launching baseless attacks on Franken simply because they're embarrassed is juvenile and cheap, even by their low standards. 

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