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.