Senate GOP nixes Paycheck Fairness Act

Senate Republicans today ensured there would be no vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill pushed by the Obama Administration as a policy priority – and now a Democratic campaign rallying point.

The cloture vote was 52-47, short of the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring the bill to a straight up-or-down vote.

Census data showed women still made only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008. This bill would have let employees disclose salary information to co-workers despite workplace rules forbidding this, in order to expose wage disparities. Employers would have been required to show that any such disparities are based on genuine business requirements and related to specific details of the job that aren’t based on gender; it also would’ve prohibited retaliation against those who raise wage-parity issues, provided resources to help women develop negotiating skills, and bring more research into lingering causes of male-female wage disparities.

From President Barack Obama:

“This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work. My Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right for equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and every American gets a fair shot to succeed.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Senate Republicans let down the women of America – and their families – by refusing to stand up for the basic principle of equal pay for equal work. But just as we didn’t quit when Republicans tried to defeat the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, we are not going to stop fighting until the Paycheck Fairness Act becomes the law of the land.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“It’s 2012 but Republicans are stuck in the past; by blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act from receiving the simple vote it deserves, Senate Republicans have obstructed progress and prosperity for American families. They’ve joined House Republicans, who just last week voted unanimously against bringing the Paycheck Fairness Act to the floor and in doing so stood against fundamental fairness for America’s working women and families struggling to get by.

“Equal pay for equal work should be a pillar of our American recovery. In this time of great economic challenge, the 77 cents that women make for every dollar men make adds up to a real impact on working families.

“When we strengthen economic security for America’s women, we strengthen economic security for America’s families. That is why Democrats will continue to work on behalf of the opportunity for all Americans to participate equally in the prosperity of our country.”

Republicans say it was a political ploy.

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“It doesn’t seem to matter to Senate Democrats that federal law already prevents gender-based pay discrimination. Nothing seems to get in the way of Democrats’ desire to push a message-tested bill that would be a boondoggle to trial lawyers with the cost borne by small businesses and job creators who would face mountains of litigation. Given how bad this bill is, I might almost say I’m glad this is just a politically-motivated show vote. But the reality is that the American people need relief from the Obama economy, not more votes designed for the President’s political base. With our economy as weak as it is, it’s time for the President and his Capitol Hill allies to stop the games and start working to stop the largest tax hike in American history that will hit every tax-paying American on January 1st.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “now a Democratic campaign rallying point.”

    The only reason this phony bill was introduced in the first place.

    And the usual mindless crap from Stretch and Baba Booboo.

  • Common Tater

    Just coincidental that this asinine effort was on election day, huh?

    What low lifes.

  • JohnW

    Putting up a phony bill just to get the other side on record voting against it. Especially during election season. Outrageous! Shameful! Can’t imagine that the Republicans have ever done such a thing!

  • Josh Richman

    @2 – It’s Election Day only in California and five other states (IA, MT, NJ, NM & SD). Also, the House passed this in Jan. 2009; the Senate failed to move it forward in Nov. 2010; it was reintroduced in April 2011; and the House voted against taking it up last week.

  • RR senile columnist

    Come on, gals! Women have civil rights statutes galore. The Demo-babes screech as if it’s 1912, or maybe earlier.

  • JohnW

    The law takes a “guilty until proven innocent” approach. For example, Hospital A recruits a new male ER doctor from Hospital B. To get the doctor on board, Hospital A has to offer the doctor a salary equal to or greater than what the doctor already makes at Hospital B. That offer is $10,000 higher than what most of the current ER doctors, most of them female, make at Hospital A. Under the law, Hospital A would not be able to justify the disparity based on the market reality of what it took to persuade the doctor to leave his current position. They would actually have to prove that the doctor’s higher salary at Hospital B was not, itself, the product of gender-based pay discrimination. Never mind that there might even be other variables to justify the higher salary. Maybe the doctor has subspecialty training that the other doctors don’t have, or went to a better medical school or residency program, or scored higher on the boards, or has won awards, or is multilingual. Under the law, Hospital A would have to prove that these extra credentials were necessary to do the job, not just bragging points.

  • BGR

    Practically verbatim from George Miller mailer that cast them vote in hyper partisan spin that the issue had become unrecognizable and looks like Times played along again.