Franken Gets His First Amendment Passed By Roll Call Vote

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First Posted: 10- 7-09 10:47 AM   |   Updated: 10- 7-09 01:31 PM

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After operating largely under the radar during his first few months in office, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is slowly beginning to make political ripples.

On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Democrat got his first piece of legislation passed by the United States Senate via roll call vote. The amendment stopped federal funding for those defense contractors who used mandatory arbitration clauses to deny victims of assault the right to bring their case to court. It passed by a 68-30 margin with nine Republicans joining each voting Democrat. And in the immediate aftermath, Franken was granted the chance to revel, ever so slightly, in his victory.

"The story came to my attention of Jamie Leigh Jones who, when she was 19, went to Iraq to work for [defense contractor] KBR and she was put in the barracks with 400 men and was sexually harassed," Franken told the Huffington Post in a brief interview shortly after the vote. "She complained. But they didn't do anything about it. She was drugged and gang raped and they locked her up in a shipping container. She tried to sue KBR and they said you have a mandatory arbitration clause in your contract. She tried to fight back and said this is ridiculous. She took it to court and they have been fighting her for three years."

"This bill would make it so that anybody in business with the Department of the Defense can't do this," he concluded emphatically. "They can't have mandatory arbitration on issues like assault and battery."

Franken's amendment, which was added to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill, didn't steal the headlines from the other news of the day: the ongoing debate over the war in Afghanistan. But it did add another notch in his belt as he makes the transition from popular comedian to serious politician. The senator has largely avoided the national spotlight in favor of pursuing a behind-the-scenes yeoman-like approach. Indeed, when asked to discuss what role congressional Democrats would play in adding conditions to any potential troop increase in Afghanistan, he demurred, saying there wasn't enough time in the brief interview to address such a weighty topic.

Since winning election, the senator has had several memorable moments and achievements. He was praised for strong questioning -- and a solid Perry Mason joke -- during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. And, in mid July, a bill he authored to provide more service dog services to wounded veterans was adopted by the Senate through unanimous consent.

That piece of legislation, like the one passed on Tuesday night, was a low-risk but eminently logical effort -- something that could engender bipartisan support by addressing a plain and evident problem. But in his conversation with the Huffington Post, Franken indicated that his eyes were set on a broader topic, one that his amendment only began to address.

"One of the things I campaigned on is the fact that we haven't done oversight on our contractors," he said. "Part of the job of Congress is to do oversight which we really didn't do it, especially from 2001 to 2007. It was actually almost criminal that we didn't do it on our contractors in Iraq because there was all this money that was wasted and lost on fraud and abuse. It was totally incompetent and in contributed to the collapse of the country because the reconstruction was done so wrong."


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After operating largely under the radar during his first few months in office, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is slowly beginning to make political ripples. On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Democrat got h...
After operating largely under the radar during his first few months in office, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is slowly beginning to make political ripples. On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Democrat got h...
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- Philclock I'm a Fan of Philclock 23 fans permalink
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I don't get Franken's amendment.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand this from some background reading Mrs. Jones did not waive her civil rights by any agreement to mandatory arbitration.

And if that's the case, what's the deal? Sounds like she can take the case to arbitration with the company; and she can also take her assailants to civil court.

I also understand that her case was referred to the Department of Justice, which chose not to pursue it, for whatever reason.

Mandatory arbitration clauses have a distinct purpose, swift resolution of issues agreed upon by both parties, and reduce costs of endless litigation in courts.

Check out conservative blog overlawyered for specific responses to the above and navigating the issues at hand, agree with it or not brings them to the fore:

http://overlawyered.com/2008/02/jamie-leigh-jones-tracy-barker-halliburton-iv/

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 08:56 PM on 10/08/2009

TO: WakeUp

You keep writing that ACORN registered 43,000 voters in Minnesota & that "the investigation" will show Franken did not win.

My comment to YOU - Wakeup - That story you keep pushing on this blog is A YEAR OLD ... That's right, the Drooling Rightwinger's blog, Newsmax, started pushing that same story November 10, 2008 ....

YOU should wake up - wake up - the investigation is OVER ... NO VOTER FRAUD occurred.

Now, just get over the loss and - while you're at it - YOU should drop Senator Franken a note thanking him for his BRILLIANT Bill that protects a woman's right to take her R A P I S T to court.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 09:59 AM on 10/08/2009
- Philclock I'm a Fan of Philclock 23 fans permalink
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Does this mean the lefties finally agree that Bush whupped Al Gore????

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 06:18 PM on 10/08/2009
- johnr49 I'm a Fan of johnr49 32 fans permalink

Since the Supreme Court effectively appointed Bush president, it's rather a moot point, although nobody seems to dispute that Gore won the popular vote.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:50 AM on 10/09/2009
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Al understands government ... you have to move the money around in order to affect policy.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 06:37 AM on 10/08/2009

Alfie is no longer funny. He is laughable though. He is a former comedian.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:37 AM on 10/08/2009
- Imzadi I'm a Fan of Imzadi 42 fans permalink
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Drunk posting is not pretty.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 08:42 AM on 10/08/2009
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CO2 ~~~ Laughable? What? ~~~ Perhaps you were you one of the KBR rapists?

Maybe you haven't noticed that the most credible people bringing us the real news these days are comedians like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher . . .

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:21 PM on 10/08/2009

franken-mensch--

wellstone-mensch

minnesota-you guys sure know how to pick em.....

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:17 AM on 10/08/2009
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Mensch is good. Franken, Wellstone - good.

Bachmann - not so good.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:46 PM on 10/08/2009
- Skygazer I'm a Fan of Skygazer 9 fans permalink

Awww...congrats Sen. Al. Every vet needs a nice smart doggy if they need one. Woof..woof...

Looking forward to more good things from this man in the future.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:03 AM on 10/08/2009
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congratulations on writing significant legislation that effects halyburton alone

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:33 AM on 10/08/2009

Actually it affects all contractors. KBR is just the ones who made it obvious that a corporation was sick enough to do this.

Kind of like writing a law that says the goverment should punish those who beat their spouse would only affect those who beat their spouse. If only one person beats their spouse then they are the only one affected.... until someone else does it.

The really sad part is that something that should fall in the "Duh!" catagory actually has to be written down and voted on.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:06 PM on 10/08/2009
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Thank you, Ken, for explaining the real meaning behind this legislation to the people amongst us who didn't actually read the article (or didn't understand what they were reading ~~~ same difference.)

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:25 PM on 10/08/2009
- johnr49 I'm a Fan of johnr49 32 fans permalink

I find it very telling that some right-wingers like "Wake-up" are far more concerned with Al Franken's legitimacy as a senator than his success in helping female rape victims - mysoginists, maybe?

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:11 AM on 10/08/2009
- Tim303 I'm a Fan of Tim303 56 fans permalink

Nice, Mr. Senator.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:44 AM on 10/08/2009
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start with insignificant legislation

there's something about arbitration clauses with Usery Cards

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:42 AM on 10/08/2009
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Are you another of the KBR rapists? Why else demean this legislation?

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:28 PM on 10/08/2009
- poochytown I'm a Fan of poochytown 17 fans permalink

At this point Al Franken is the one politician for whom I have nothing but respect; if he stays true to his rhetoric and if his political actions continue in the same ideological vein in which they have begun he will be the only trustworthy, true-blue mensch in the business.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:41 AM on 10/08/2009
- Craftyone I'm a Fan of Craftyone 3 fans permalink

Can only just imagine that at the end of every day, Al just shakes his head in knowing that this wonderful country of ours runs at all.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:38 AM on 10/08/2009
- alumtrix I'm a Fan of alumtrix 11 fans permalink

Good God Almighty! And when little Al went Poo poo, he wiped, washed his hands and fingers, tucked in his shirt and even zipped himself up. Such a good boy, that Al.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:09 AM on 10/08/2009

:) cute! He IS somebody!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:22 AM on 10/08/2009
- poochytown I'm a Fan of poochytown 17 fans permalink

Yucky mind you have there.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:42 AM on 10/08/2009
- aznurse I'm a Fan of aznurse 46 fans permalink

you're odd.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:02 AM on 10/08/2009
- Imzadi I'm a Fan of Imzadi 42 fans permalink
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You shouldn't post after you get home from the bar...

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 08:43 AM on 10/08/2009

We're still waiting for cons to grow to that level instead of just flinging p00 about and then /icking their fingers.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 09:02 AM on 10/08/2009
- Obamanaut I'm a Fan of Obamanaut 10 fans permalink
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For anyone who has followed Al Franken's career ever since the early days of SNL, it is easy to see that he has always been a voice of social conscience. He's a brilliant man, whether it be comedic or legislative. Having him in the U.S. Senate makes me proud. Thanks Senator Franken.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:08 AM on 10/08/2009
- Peacein09 I'm a Fan of Peacein09 12 fans permalink
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Thanks Al. You know if I've got any extra money to give, some of it will be yours.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:07 AM on 10/08/2009
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