His amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2010, Franken Amdt. No. 2588, had this stated purpose:
To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.
What this basically means is that KBR and any other contracting party, who wants to force its employees to agree to arbitration, loses its government funding. Those certain claims that the amendment refers to are the criminal acts of sexual assault. KBR requires its employees, specifically its female employees, to sign a statement restricting said employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court but forcing them instead to use arbitration.
Franken's legislation was inspired by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by co-workers in Iraq while working for KBR. She was held against her will for 24 hours and threatened with her job if she left Iraq for medical attention.
KBR has never disputed the facts of her case.
What they did do was insist that she go through arbitration to deal with her "complaint". The Department of Justice agreed and it took 3 years for Jones to get the legal right to sue Halliburton/KBR. Franken's amendment would defund KBR and any government contractor who tries to insist upon mandatory arbitration for this kind of "claim".
One of the 30 Senators who voted against this amendment was my own John Cornyn (R-TX). If the Texas Democratic Party has any brains at all they will use this in every single ad run against Cornyn in his next election. Every. Single. One.
Fresh of this victory, Franken next tackled Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth as she testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on medical bankruptcy. The exchange is a thing of beauty. She claimed that a move to "European-style" universal health care would increase the number of medical bankruptcies. Franken disputes those claims in a straight-forward and take-no-prisoners moment of zen.
H/T to Think Progress for the clip and accompanying article.
Franken is the kind of Senator that we all wish we had representing us. He'd certainly be an outstanding improvement over either my two Republicans. Cornyn tows the "party of no line" so hard it's amazing that he can remain vertical against the forces of reality that he so strongly opposes. Kay Bailey-Hutchison is more concerned about her next campaign - will she/won't she run for Governor against Rick "Gov. Big Hair" Perry. Her dithering, by the way, is in no small part responsible for Mr Perry's right turn into Wing-Nutistan.
Though how weird must it be to hail from Minnesota? How can one state give us both Al Franken and Michele "Bat-Shit Crazy" Bachmann? Seriously. How?