Republicans block Paycheck Fairness Act

Republicans blocked the bill to help equalize pay for women, but the White House doesn't have to give up the fight

Topics:

Republicans block Paycheck Fairness ActBarbara Mikulski and Lilly Ledbetter (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Put on your lipstick! Square your shoulders! Suit up, and let’s fight for this new American revolution where women are paid for equal pay and equal work.” That was Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s rallying cry – but it was after the Paycheck Fairness Act had already failed along party lines.

Not that anyone was surprised. This morning’s Senate proceedings were entirely theater, with the barely acknowledged expectation that the bill would get even fewer votes than it did when the Senate last voted on it two years ago, when it also failed to garner enough votes to beat a GOP filibuster. And no one even brought up the Republican House. But today’s 52-47 vote was about keeping the gender gap drumbeat going – chiefly against Mitt Romney, who refused to ever divulge his position on Paycheck Fairness, but also in a handful of key Senate races.

As performances go, this one went right to the top  – the president himself popped up in a conference call on the vote yesterday, and the White House made a bunch of cartoon-festooned e-cards about equal pay, sent out emails about the vote, and devoted staffers’ tweets to the topic. On the Senate floor, mostly female senators taunted Republicans for not taking the opportunity to support an economic measure. But unlike the Violence Against Women Act, which clearly made them squirm and brought female Republicans into the fold, Republicans largely shrugged off the gambit.

The only exception seemed to be Nevada’s Dean Heller, currently in a tight race against Rep. Shelley Berkley. She’s missed no opportunity to paint him as anti-woman, including with his vote for the contraception-denying Blunt amendment, and perhaps as a result, she leads him among women by 10 points. (On the other hand, Heller leads her with men by 14 in that most recent poll.) He took a page from House Republican, who tried to avoid seeming pro-violence against women by presenting their own defanged bill, and introduced his own version with weaker legal recourse (or as he put it, “Democrats’ war on free enterprise”). “Let me be clear, pay discrimination based on gender is unacceptable,” Heller said on the floor today. “Despite the political rhetoric around here, everyone agrees on this fact. The question is, will Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? And the simple answer is no.”

You Might Also Like

Neither bill has a future, for now at least. But they both contained a provision that would make it illegal to retaliate against employees for discussing salary, which doesn’t have to die if the White House actually wants to put its money where its mouth is. Advocates had raised the prospect of the president issuing an executive order making retaliation for pay disclosure illegal for companies with federal contracts – covering about 26 million employees. When I asked Valerie Jarrett on a conference call yesterday if the president would consider that partial measure in the event the Paycheck Fairness Act failed, she said that for the time being, the White House was focused on passing the bill.

Irin Carmon
Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at icarmon@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>