GOP Kills Paycheck Fairness Act, Equal Pay for Women

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Common Dreams

GOP Kills Paycheck Fairness Act, Equal Pay for Women

by
Common Dreams staff

Today, the Senate Republican minority filibustered to block passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in a 52 to 47 tally, successfully killing the bill.

The act would have helped to decrease the current pay gap between women and men by increasing protections for women filing gender discrimination lawsuits, creating a federal grant program to improve salary negotiating skills for women, and rewarding employers who have fair pay practices, among other steps.

“Republicans are standing against public opinion, common sense, and fifty years of advances in gender equality,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ). “Now everyone in this country who pays women less than men for the same job knows who their friends are in Washington. This is an open insult to every working woman and man in this country, not only because it means families earn less for their honest labor but because it creates inequality between colleagues where none should exist. Shame on everyone who votes for discrimination in the workplace.”

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Congressional Progressive Caucus: Co-Chairs Slam Republicans for Filibustering Paycheck Fairness for Women

The Senate Republican minority today blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness for Women Act, a common-sense effort to address the pay gap between women and men. The filibuster follows an attempt last week by House Democrats to get a vote on the bill, which the Republican House majority refused to allow.

The Paycheck Fairness Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries, closes loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, rewards employers who have fair and equitable pay practices, and helps small businesses adopt equal pay policies. [...]

“The idea that a woman would be paid less than a man for the same work is grossly unfair,” said CPC Co-Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN). “Why would anyone subvert the democratic process to pay women less than men? Women lose significant income during their lifetimes due to pay inequity. This unfairness extends to the children, elderly parents and families who rely on women for support. This unequal treatment has to end.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. The statistics are even worse for women of color. In 2010, African American women only earned approximately 62 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white man. The Institute of Women’s Policy Research found that this wage disparity will cost women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime in lost wages.

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The Hill: Paycheck Fairness Act is defeated in Senate

Democratic legislation meant to fight gender discrimination in the workplace failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate Tuesday on a procedural vote.

In a 52 to 47 tally the Senate defeated the Paycheck Fairness Act. The legislation aimed to increase protections for women filing gender discrimination lawsuits, as well as create a federal grant program to improve salary negotiating skills of women.

The vote was strictly along party lines, with the two Independent senators voting with Democrats and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) not voting. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote so that he could bring the bill up again.

The bill's defeat came after Democrats made a tightly coordinated media blitz to call for the bill's passage. President Obama, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-M.d.), and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rosa Delauro (D-Conn.), all held conference calls expressing strong support for the legislation. But Republicans strongly opposed the bill, leaving Democrats short of the seven votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Democrats said the paycheck bill's defeat is the latest example of a Republican "war on women."

"It is a very sad day here in the United States Senate but it's a sadder day everyday when paycheck day comes and women continue to make less than men," Mikulski said after the vote. "We're sorry that this vote occurred strictly on party lines."

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National Organization for Women: Senate Fails Women on Equal Pay
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill

The National Organization for Women is deeply disappointed that conservatives in the U.S. Senate this afternoon prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote. Today, this bill had 52 votes to move forward, and the support of the majority of the Senate. By blocking this commonsense law, right-wing legislators have expanded the War on Women. But women are paying attention, and will remember in November.

The Senate's failure to agree to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act is a direct blow to working women and their families. It is unacceptable that women are still paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and prevent employers from retaliating against workers for sharing salary information. An important milestone in the long journey toward workplace equality, the act would ensure that women in this country aren't bringing home smaller paychecks because of discrimination.

The people of this country, women and men alike, believe in fair pay. The politicians who voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act will pay a price at the polls -- and NOW activists around the country are already organizing to see that that happens.

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