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June 05, 2012

Equal pay measure fails in Senate

As expected, the Senate Tuesday failed mostly along party lines to move a pay equity bill that Democrats called necessary for women to achieve equal pay and that Republicans considered an election-year stunt designed to taint them as anti-women. On a procedual vote, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to receive the 60 votes required for the Senate to take up the bill: 52 Democrats voted for it, 47 Republicans voted against.

As they did on Monday, Democrats mounted a full-court public relations blitz in favor of the bill. House Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Donna Edwards, D-Md., Chris van Hollen, D-Md., and Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands walked with Lilly Ledbetter from the House of Representatives side of the Capitol to the doors outside the Senate chamber prior to the vote to show support for the Democratic-sponsored Senate bill. Lebbetter's name is attached to an equal pay law that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

"Had the Paycheck Fairness Act been on the books, been the law in my day, I would not be trapped in the life that I live today because with so much less retirement money and less Social Security because it (retirement) would have been based on a higher pay, which I had earned legally, but was not given by the corporation I worked for," Ledbetter, a retired tire company employee, told reporters prior to the vote.

The bill required businesses to show that wage discrepancies between men and women are not basaed on gender. It also banned retaliation against workers who reveal their wages or try to get salary information from their employers.

Once Democrats knew the bill wouldn't pass, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his "Yes" vote to "No," a procedural move that will allow him to try to move the bill again at a later date.

"But it's clear where Democrats stand," Reid said. "We stand for equal pay for equal work. And it's time for Republicans to stop denying the reality that millions of women face every day, and work with us to give women the pay equality they deserve."

Several Republicans took offense with at Democratic Party efforts to portray the GOP as politically hostile towards women.

"As a father and husband of women in the workfoce, I strongly belive in fair pay, and employers who discriminate against women should be prosecuted aggressively," Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said in a statement. "The bill before the Senate today was flawed and overreaching. It's the right cause but the wrong bill."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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