Senate fails to advance Paycheck Fairness Act amid GOP opposition

The Senate on Tuesday failed to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation aimed at addressing the gender wage gap that is a top agenda item for Democrats, but that faces Republican opposition.

A procedural vote to move forward with consideration of the legislation failed by a vote of 49-50, falling short of the 60 vote threshold needed to succeed.

The outcome of the vote underscores yet again how limited Democrats are in what they can do to advance their agenda with a 50-50 partisan split Senate as long as the legislative filibuster remains intact.

The bill would, according to the legislative text, “provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.” It passed the House in April with a vote of 217-210. One Republican, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, voted for the bill at the time.

The measure would “strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, help eliminate the gender wage gap, and guarantee that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable,” according to a press release put out when the bill was reintroduced in the current session of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took aim at the bill and Senate Democrats’ broader agenda in remarks on the Senate floor Monday.

McConnell argued that the June agenda that Democrats are pursuing, which includes priorities including the pay equity legislation as well as a major voting rights overhaul that faces stiff GOP resistance, is “transparently designed to fail.”

“Senate Democrats intend to focus this month on the demands of their radical base, exploiting the cause of pay fairness to send a windfall to trial lawyers, saddling hospitals, schools and small businesses with crippling new legal burdens if they fail to keep pace with woke social norms,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke in support of the bill on the floor earlier in the day on Tuesday and responded to McConnell’s criticisms.

“Look, the only way that a bill to provide equal pay to women is designed to fail is if Senate Republicans block it,” Schumer said, adding, “If the Republican leader wants to talk about radical positions, I’d say that opposing legislation to provide equal pay for women supported by a solid majority of voters is a radical position.”

“We’ve been talking about the wage gap for years now with no action taken by the Senate. Women with the same jobs, the same degree, sometimes even better degrees than their male colleagues, are making less money. For women of color, the gap between them and their male colleagues is even wider,” he said.

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