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Biography Alan Franken

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Alan Franken Alan Franken
Alan Franken
The junior United States Senator from Minnesota.


Alan Franken Biography

ENG - Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which affiliates with the national Democratic Party.

Franken achieved prominence as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live from its inception in 1975 before moving to writing and acting in films and television shows. He then became a political commentator, author of five books and host of a nationally syndicated radio show on the Air America Radio network.

In 2008, Franken narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman, by 312 votes, after a mandatory statewide manual recount. Coleman contested the outcome in court, but the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld Franken's victory on June 30, 2009. Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009.


Early life

Franken was born in New York City to Phoebe G. Kunst, a homemaker and real estate agent, and Joseph P. Franken, a printing salesman. The family later moved to St. Louis Park, a suburb near Minneapolis. Franken had a Jewish upbringing. His older brother Owen is a photojournalist; MSNBC's Bob Franken is his cousin. Franken graduated in 1969 from The Blake School, where he was on the wrestling team. He attended Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 1973 with a B.A. in political science.


U.S. Senate

Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009, 246 days after the November 2008 election. He became the fifth senator to be sworn in since the class of 2008 was sworn in January 2009. The desk where he sat was the same desk that Paul Wellstone used, which Senate leaders had kept open for Franken.

On August 6, 2009, Senator Franken presided over the confirmation vote of Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A year later on August 5, 2010, Franken presided over the confirmation vote of Elena Kagan. Senator Franken's first piece of legislation was the Service Dogs for Veterans Act (S. 1495), which he wrote jointly with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). The bill, which passed the Senate via unanimous consent, established a program with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to pair disabled veterans with service dogs.

A video of Senator Franken on September 2, 2009, at the Minnesota State Fair engaging in a discussion with what started out as an ambush from an angry group of Tea Party protesters, but became a productive conversation on health care reform, soon found itself going viral. The discussion was noted for its civility, in contrast to the explosive character of several other similar discussions between members of the 111th Congress and their constituents that had occurred over the summer.

Citing the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, Senator Franken offered an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." It passed the US Senate, 68 to 30, in a roll-call vote. All 30 of the "nay" votes came from Republicans.

In May 2010 Franken proposed an amendment to financial reform legislation which would create a board to select which credit rating agency would evaluate a given security - currently companies issuing a security may select which company evaluates the security. The amendment was passed; however, the financial industry lobbied to have Franken's amendment removed from the final bill. Negotiations between the Senate and House of Representatives, whose version of financial reform did not include such a provision, resulted in the amendment being watered down to require only a series of studies being done upon the issue for two years. After the studies if the SEC has not implemented another solution to the conflict of interest problem, Franken's solution will go into effect.

A March 2010 poll taken by Rasmussen Reports placed Franken's approval rating at 50% with Minnesotans.

In August 2010, Franken made faces and hand gestures and rolled his eyes while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered a speech in opposition to the confirmation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.Franken's actions prompted McConnell to remark, "This isn't 'Saturday Night Live,' Al."





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