WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Collin Peterson, and Jim Oberstar have joined in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Sen. Al Franken’s amendment on defense contractors be included in the House Defense Appropriations Bill.
Franken’s amendment, which passed the Senate earlier this month by a 68 to 30 vote, would prevent the federal government from issuing defense contracts to companies that force employees with sexual assault and discrimination suits into arbitration as opposed to giving them the opportunity to pursue their grievances through the court system.
The House members wrote: “… we strongly support the retention of the Franken Amendment in this year’s Defense Appropriations Act. Employees of federal contractors — contractors paid with taxpayer dollars — should not be denied access to one of the fundamental principles of American democracy — the jury system — when they are victims of wrongdoing.”
While Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., supports the language, she was not able to sign on to the letter because she sits on the Appropriations Committee.
Reports last week suggested that Franken’s amendment was in danger of being stripped from the bill or watered down, as defense contractors lobbied Sen. Dan Inouye of Hawaii, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In addition, while the White House has said it supports the intention of the amendment, it has opposed the specific approach, saying that enforcement would be problematic.