Republicans Vote Against Equal Pay for Women–Unanimously
Senate Republicans don't care about equal pay, privileging small business over gender equality. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have expanded womens' recourse against wage discrimination, died in the Senate today, under the oft-invoked guise of protecting small business. Even some previously pro-equal pay women turned their backs on the bill–Vermont conservatives Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both registered “no” votes. Ironically, the bill failed by just two votes.
The bill would have worked to ensure equal pay for women, giving them more remedies in the court system for wage discrimination.
The summary of the bill states that it "amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages."
After Fair Pay was annihilated, Obama released a strong statement expressing his dismay. "I am deeply disappointed that a minority of Senators have prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from finally being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote," he said. "This bill passed in the House almost two years ago; today, it had 58 votes to move forward, the support of the majority of Senate, and the support of the majority of Americans. As we emerge from one of the worst recessions in history, this bill would ensure that American women and their families aren't bringing home smaller paychecks because of discrimination."
Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, echoed Obama's sentiments. “In this difficult economy, in which nearly 40 percent of mothers are primary breadwinners, women shoulder increased responsibility for supporting their families and cannot afford to have employers discounting their salaries,” she said in a statement. “Among other important provisions, the law would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who seek to learn whether they are being paid unfairly.”
Republicans' justification for killing the bill was based on the potential for “excessive litigation against the small business community,” aka bosses who knowingly discriminate against their female employees might actually have to own up to their actions in a court of law. Meanwhile, women still earn 77 cents to every dollar a man earns, on average–a statistic that hasn't changed in decades, and likely won't anytime soon. So thanks for that, Republicans.