Senate Republicans again kill Paycheck Fairness Act
4/09/14 01:06 PM – Steven Benen – maddowblog
The third time was not the charm. Democratic efforts to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to overcome Republican opposition in the 111th Congress and the 112th Congress, and as of this morning, it failed once again at the hands of a GOP filibuster.
Senate Republicans filibustered a debate on a Democratic pay equity bill backed by President Barack Obama Wednesday.
Sixty votes were needed to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor, but Republicans refused to allow the bill to come up for debate after complaining Democrats weren’t allowing votes on their amendments.
The roll call from the vote is online here. Note that the final tally was 54 to 43 – six votes shy of the supermajority needed to end Republican obstructionism – but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote for procedural reasons, leaving it at 53 to 44.
The legislation received exactly zero Republican votes, as was the case with previous efforts to pass the bill.I
In case anyone needs a refresher, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a perfectly credidble piece of legislation that would “enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and driven by business necessity. The measure would also protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information, which is important for deterring and challenging discriminatory compensation.”
As we’ve discussed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure.
Republicans have responded that they endorse the idea of equal pay for equal work, but in recent years, much of the party remains opposed to policymakers’ efforts to do something about it. (This morning, some GOP senators also raised procedural objections about amendments.)
As for the electoral considerations, aren’t GOP lawmakers worried about rejecting measures like these in an election year?
Senate Republicans aren’t sweating a ramped-up push by Democrats and President Barack Obama for new pay equity legislation – pushing forward women Republicans to rebut charges they have a woman problem and doubting the issue will resonate with voters. […]
Republicans argue that the Democrats’ bill – along with their so-called “Fair Shot” agenda for the year – is a political ploy that will not fool voters.
I’m not sure who’s trying to fool whom in this model. Dems put together a bill; the bill is popular; and they’ve pushed it repeatedly for six years. That sounds less like a p.r. stunt and more like an effort to address a problem.
As for the midterms, Republicans have struggled of late with the gender gap. At a minimum, today’s vote won’t help.
- Nov 17, 2010 Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.
- Apr 11, 2013 House GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.
- Apr 9, 2014 Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.
- Sep 15, 2014 Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is proposed legislation that would add procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States. A Census Bureau report published in 2008 stated that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of men’s earnings, newer studies suggest, when the data is controlled for certain variables, the residual gap is around 7%, the same study concludes that the residual is due to the fact that “hours of work in many occupations are worth more when given at particular moments and when the hours are more continuous. That is, in many occupations earnings have a nonlinear relationship with respect to hours.”
The House of Representatives approved the bill in January 2009. The United States Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.
The 2010 bill had no Republican Party co-sponsors, though a group of four Republican senators had supported an earlier bill to address gender-based wage discrimination, including Susan Collins, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Lisa Murkowski and Olympia Snowe. On June 5th, 2012 the bill fell short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster and did not make it to the Senate floor for debate. The vote went along party lines, excluding a vote against by Democrat Harry Reid. (A vote which left Democrats the option to introduce the bill again at a later time.) On April 9, 2014, in another straight-party-line vote, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress) was again blocked by a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Once again, Senator Reid changed his vote from support to oppose, as a tactical maneuver to keep the bill alive.
The 2010 Senate version of the bill had the support of the Obama administration and that of Democrats in the Senate. The American Civil Liberties Union supported S.182, citing the 2008 data from the United States Census Bureau that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of the male median, African-American women’s median annual earnings were 64% of the white male median, and Hispanic women’s median annual earnings were 54% of the white male median. The American Association of University Women also supported the bill, citing the organization’s 2007 research report, Behind the Pay Gap, which showed that women earn less than their male colleagues just one year out of college. The pay gap has widened 10 years after graduation.
FACT SHEET: Fighting for Equal Pay and the Paycheck Fairness Act
Today, the President continues to advocate for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. The Paycheck Fairness Act is commonsense legislation that, among other things, would achieve the following:
- Better align key Equal Pay Act defenses with those in Title VII.
- Bring remedies available under the Equal Pay Act into line with remedies available under other civil rights laws.
- Make the requirements for class action lawsuits under the Equal Pay Act match those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Protect employees who share their own salary information at work from retaliation by an employer.
The existing legal tools available to remedy pay discrimination are not enough, so Congress needs to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act now.
Did You Know That Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men?
On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This substantial gap is more than a statistic — it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.
President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive and commonsense bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.