A piece of legislation that aims to protect the right of sexual assault victims employed by federal contractors to press charges is one step closer to passage.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)'s "anti-rape" amendment, as it has been dubbed by its supporters, would prohibit the government from granting federal contracts to companies that require employees to resolve sexual assault allegations through arbitration rather than through a court case.
The law would, in essence, force government contractors to decide between giving up valuable federal contracts or risking the cost of litigation to deal with employees who press sexual assault charges against the company and other employees.
The amendment was added to the Senate's defense spending bill in October. On Tuesday, the Huffington Post reports, the Senate Committee on Appropriation passed the defense spending bill with the "anti-rape" amendment largely unchanged.
Franken introduced the measure in response to allegations from Jamie Leigh Jones, an employee of former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, who said she was raped by coworkers while in Iraq in 2005. After returning from Iraq, she learned her contract with her employer stipulated she could only address the assault through arbitration. An appeals court allowed Jones to take her case to court.
"I came to Washington to stand up for folks like Jamie Leigh, and stand up to the powerful interests that too often silence their voices," Sen. Franken reportedly said in a statement.
Republicans opposed Franken's measure because of the risk it would impose on contractors. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called it "a political attack directed at Halliburton," the company formerly led by former Vice President Dick Cheney.