Democratic Mid-Term Pay Bill Filibustered by Senate Republicans

U.S. Senate Republicans today filibustered a Democratic pay bill that is backed by President Barack Obama and designed to attract votes in the mid-term elections.

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 vote was 53-44, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., joining Republicans as a “no” in order to preserve his right to reconsider the vote, Roll Call reported.
Not a single Republican voted to end the dilatory debate, The Hill reported.

Senate Republican women have their own alternative that includes provisions against retaliating against workers who inquire about salaries. Republicans also sought to get votes on other proposals that they said would boost jobs but didn’t seem worried by the potential political fallout, despite Senate Democrats promising to bring the bill up again and again this year.

Senate Democrats and the White House have made it clear they intend to use the issue to rally their voters around this fall’s midterm elections, and Democratic pollsters worry that low turnout, especially among unmarried women, will hurt Democrats this year, The Hill reported.

“Pay equity, that’s women, that’s 53 percent of the vote,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate Democrats’ chief political strategist, told reporters before the vote.

Republicans voted in unison against the bill because they saw it as a “giveaway” to trial lawyers because it would remove caps on punitive damages against businesses found guilty of discrimination, The Hill said.

The Republican Party in its blog said Republicans support equal pay for equal work but more regulations that cut flexibility and end merit pay that rewards good work are not needed.

It’s been illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The proposed Democratic-backed law will not create “equal” pay, but it will make it nearly impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, productivity and experience, reduce flexibility in the workplace, and make it far easier to file frivolous lawsuits that line the pockets of trial lawyers, the GOP said.

“When you use the similar methodology to evaluate White House salaries, it turns out that the median pay for women in the Obama White House is 88 cents for every dollar a man makes,” said. “When presented with this information, the White House says it’s not a fair calculation.”

-Dana Beyerle