The Paycheck Fairness Act failed to get the 60 votes necessary to break the filibuster in the US Senate today and was not brought to the floor, with all Republicans voting against the bill and all Democrats voting for the bill in a straight party-line vote. (Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) must vote procedurally with the prevailing side so he has the option of bringing the bill back to the Senate floor this session.) The Paycheck Fairness Act sought to protect women’s right to equal pay by closing loophole of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Under the proposed law, employers would have been required to demonstrate that salary differences between men and women who do the same work are not due to gender. Employers would have also been barred from retaliating against employees who share paycheck information with coworkers.
Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal commented, “The Republican war on women rages on. First they attacked birth control, then the Violence Against Women Act, and now they’ve attacking pay equity. With the straight party-line vote, the GOP caved to business interests and denied women the equality they deserve.”
Before the vote, Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) held a press conference with Lilly Ledbetter urging its passage. After the bill failed, Senator Mikulski, the chief sponsor of the bill, called it a sad day for the senate, but a sadder day for women.
Republicans have falsely argued that the law does not strengthen equal pay protections and just adds to the government bureaucracy. Republicans offered an alternative bill with fewer protections, the misnamed End Pay Discrimination through Information Act. The GOP has argued that it hurts business interests and the Chamber of Commerce released a statement in opposition to the bill. “It was especially disappointing that Senators Snowe, Collins, and Scott Brown did not listen to the women of their states and voted instead with so-called business interests that want loopholes to prevail and pay equity laws to be weak,” said Smeal.
The Paycheck Fairness Act was brought as a cloture vote to break the filibuster requiring 60 votes in order to move the bill to the floor for consideration. Earlier, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives voted 233- 180 in nearly a straight party-line vote against bringing the Paycheck Fairness Act to the floor. The bill was last brought to a Senate vote two years ago, but it received only 58 of the 60 necessary votes. .
The Hill 6/5/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/5/12