Not one of the 30 Republican senators who voted against Sen. Al Franken's anti-rape amendment agreed to explain their rationale when MSNBC came calling, news host Rachel Maddow told her audience Wednesday evening.
Jamie Leigh Jones, the woman whose alleged gang rape at the hands of co-workers at defense contractor KBR was the inspiration for the amendment, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show Thursday night to laud its passing in the Senate earlier this month. The amendment prohibits the government from contracting with companies that refuse to allow employees to pursue rape allegations in court.
As Jones explained to Maddow, that was the case with KBR -- then a subsidiary of Halliburton -- when the company responded to Jones' allegations of rape by locking her in a shipping container and refusing to give her access to medical treatment or contact with the outside world.
"I cannot even understand the reasoning as to why anyone would vote against" the Franken amendment, Jones told Maddow. "I'm thrilled it's gotten as far as it has gotten."
But, according to a report at the Huffington Post, the amendment -- though considered to be wildly popular -- may have trouble getting any further. Reporter Sam Stein cites "multiple sources" who told him Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, is considering watering down the amendment, or eliminating it altogether, when it goes to a vote on the Senate floor as part of a defense appropriations bill. Stein reports:
Inouye's office, sources say, has been lobbied by defense contractors adamant that the language of the Franken amendment would leave them overly exposed to lawsuits and at constant risk of having contracts dry up.
As Rachel Slajda reported at TalkingPointsMemo, despite the horrible optics of appearing to be in favor of rape, both the White House and the Pentagon are opposed to the amendment, at least in its current form.
The [Pentagon] argued that it and its subcontractors "may not be in a position to know about such things," i.e., whether contractors employ the mandatory arbitration clauses. "Enforcement would be problematic," the note read, because contractors may not be privy to what's in their subcontractors' contracts.
The department suggests that "it may be more effective" to seek a law that would prohibit the clauses in any business contracts within U.S. jurisdiction.
A White House spokesman told Slajda that President Obama supports "the intent of the amendment," and is working with legislators to rewrite the amendment so as "to make sure it is enforceable."
But even as the wheeling and dealing over the Franken amendment continues inside the Beltway, on Main Street the GOP's opposition to it has been turned into a powerful talking point for Democrats and progressives. A Web site entitled Republicans For Rape has sprung up, satirizing the 30 senators' opposition to the amendment.
On her show Thursday night, Maddow listed the names of all 30 senators who voted against the amendment, and suggested she continues to hope they will eventually speak up about their vote.
"Senators, I want you to know, the invitation [to appear on the show] remains open," she said.
The following video was broadcast on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, October 22, 2009.