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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 23
GOP senators to women: No fairness for you!
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GOP senators to women: No fairness for you!

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Senate Republicans successfully blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act in a procedural vote on June 5.

The bill was intended to help women workers who earn, on average, only 72 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

It would have authorized the federal government to collect data on possible wage discrimination, and it would have funded federal grants to help women workers learn salary negotiation skills. The bill also would have barred retaliation against workers who inquire about pay disparities or share their salary information with colleagues.

Fifty-two senators - all the Senate's Democrats and its two independents - voted to bring the bill up for debate, but the 52-47 tally fell short of the 60 votes needed for most major bills under current Senate rules.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted for the measure, but then changed his vote so he would be qualified to bring the bill up again at a later time.

'This is a common-sense measure with broad public support. Nine out of 10 Americans - including 81 percent of men and 77 percent of Republicans - support this legislation,' Reid said.

'But once again, the only Republicans who are left opposing a common-sense measure to improve our economy and help middle-class families are the ones here in Washington.'

Forty-six of the Senate's 47 Republicans voted to table the bill. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) abstained.

'It is a very sad day here in the United States Senate, but it's a sadder day [when payday] comes and women continue to make less than men,' Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said after the vote.

'We're sorry that this vote occurred strictly on party lines.'

President Obama blasted Republicans for the vote.

'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,' Obama said in a statement.

'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,' he added.

Senate Republicans said the bill would only create new layers of bureaucracy.

Outside business groups like the Chamber of Commerce also expressed opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act. On Monday the chamber sent out a letter saying it 'strongly opposes' the measure, and urging lawmakers to vote against it.

Democrats argued that income inequality hurts the country's economy by concentrating money in the hands of the wealthy instead of distributing it to the middle class.

'This is an issue, Mr. President, that not only affects women, but our families and our economy,' Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said.

'You would see the economy stimulated because middle-class families would spend those dollars - they don't hoard those dollars.'

Boxer said she could not comprehend why Republicans would want to block the bill, but she said she was sure 'they'll come up with some excuse.'

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