Without the responsibility of attending committee meetings or hearings over the past six months, without any ceremonial duties to attend to, and with the responsibility of his lawsuits to gain office delegated to his lawyers, Al Franken has had a lot of time on his hands… certainly a lot more time than any other member of the United States Senator. The recently sworn-in Senator Franken has assuredly had the assistance of a number of policy advisers in that time, but even if he had no such assistance, he had access to the same public repository of legislative information that you and I are free to access: Thomas, the congressional database of bills and bill-related information maintained by the Library of Congress.
With all that time on his hands and all that information at his fingertips, one would hope that Senator Franken had studied up and developed some notion of what he’d like to do once he got into office. Certainly, that’s what Franken himself indicated last week. Speaking of the public, Franken indicated, “They’ll see what I do and what I say. Mainly I’m going to put my head down and get to work.”
Well, let me tell you what I see: from a slate of 5 progressive bills standing before the Senate in the 111th Congress, 5 bills we see as essential indicators of a politician’s progressivism, Al Franken has signed on in support of exactly none of them. Zero. Zip.
The new Senator Franken certainly has more time on his hands in which he may cosponsor these bills. But he certainly hasn’t rushed to do so; paired with his surprise support for no-bid contracts, this inaction gives me pause. Senator Franken bears watching.