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Senate Republicans Vote Unanimously Against Bill To Help Guarantee Fair Pay For Women

By Guest Contributor  

"Senate Republicans Vote Unanimously Against Bill To Help Guarantee Fair Pay For Women"

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Our guest blogger is Rebecca Lefton, a Researcher with Progressive Media.

Today, Senate Republicans voted unanimously against legislation to close the pay gap between women and men. The Senate voted 58-41 against allowing debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end discriminatory pay practices against women. It had already passed the House.

More than 45 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act, the pay gap shockingly persists with women still earning on average 77 cents to every man’s dollar. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “This persistent pay gap translates to more than $10,000 in lost wages per year for the average female worker.” The gap is even worse for women of color: African-American women earn 61 cents and Latinas earn 52 cents for every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns.

This afternoon on MSNBC, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said it was “outrageous” and “egregious” that “these senators voted against fair pay.” Watch it:

Women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. The Paycheck Fairness Act would be critical to strengthening the economic security of these families. The bill would have updated the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes, strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination, and prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages. The act would have also addressed pay secrecy, which is a prevalent problem prohibiting employees from knowing whether discriminatory practices are occurring.

Not a single Republican supported the bill, including Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who had previously voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which removed barriers blocking workers from seeking compensation from discriminatory pay practices. At the time, Snowe said, “This new law[] sends a clear message to the American people that this Congress is committed to these core principles and will continue to work in bipartisan fashion to break down the barriers of wage discrimination in our nation.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who also voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, was the lone Democrat voting against the bill today. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was not present for the vote.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a long record of opposing women’s rights urged Congress to vote against the act, as it did with Lilly Ledbetter in 2009.

Update

In response to the vote, President Obama put out a strong statement slamming the Senate GOP for blocking the bill: “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. 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. … But a partisan minority of Senators blocked this commonsense law.”

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