So far, the list of Al Franken’s bills in the U.S. Senate reads more like the stuff of everyday life than legislative legend.
There are measures on school lunches, household products, service dogs for wounded vets. On his 100th day in office last week, he helped unveil a bill to extend country-of-origin labeling regulations to dairy products.
“A lot of these are common-sense things,” Franken said while sitting beneath a photo of his late friend and mentor, Sen. Paul Wellstone. “A lot of these are about improving people’s lives. That’s what Paul said politics is all about.”
It’s becoming clear that, to Franken — who made his entrance after the partisan rumpus of a 312-vote recount victory — discretion is the better part of valor as he feels his way into the complex web of relationships that make up everyday life in the Senate.
He has spent more time building bridges than scoring points. The favor has been returned by GOP colleagues in the Senate, where collegiality is the stratagem of choice.
Not that there haven’t been Wellstonian sparks. Franken’s 100th day last Wednesday coincided with a “Daily Show” segment by humorist Jon Stewart taking the Minnesota Democrat’s side in a recent floor battle with Republicans. The dust-up, which Franken won, came over a narrowly drawn measure to strengthen legal rights of military contract workers sexually assaulted on the job.