Senate Democrats poised to bludgeon Republicans over opposition to equal pay measure

If Republicans don't agree with the Paycheck Fairness Act, "they’ll vote no ... They can go home and explain it”

By Katie McDonough
April 9, 2014 6:13PM (UTC)
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Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Senate Democrats are poised this Wednesday morning to introduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure that would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who share information about their salaries, empower victims of wage discrimination to seek punitive damages, and require employers to explain pay disparities between men and women.

And, surprise, Senate Republicans are poised to block it.


“For the third time, Democrats bring this legislation before the Senate, hoping Republicans will finally do the right thing,” Sen. Harry Reid said Tuesday, in anticipation of Republican obstructionism on the vote. “In any other circumstance, Republican senators would be up in arms over this type of economic discrimination. They should be up in arms over equal pay for women, too.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, like many of his fellow Republicans, dismissed the legislation -- and the problem of pay inequity more broadly -- by calling the issue “the left’s latest bizarre obsession.”

“Democrats chose to ignore serious job-creation ideas so they could blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left,” he said.


The major Republican criticism of the measure seems to be that it has virtually no chance of surviving a vote, and mainly serves to stir up support among the Democrats' most powerful voting block -- women, and women of color, specifically. (But what would Senate Republicans know about pointless show votes?)

But it seems that Democrats are happy to let Republicans vote down the measure and show their cards on the issue.

“It’s a philosophy. If they don’t agree with it, they’ll vote no. I don’t have to go beg somebody to vote for this. They’ve either got intuition, know this is not right, not fair and vote with us. Or not,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “They can go home and explain it.”


“No number of political memos will save Republicans at the ballot box in November,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, adding that Senate Democrats intend to keep reviving the measure in order to “see what kind of excuses Republicans can come up with” to keep voting it down.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Democrats Gender Pay Gap Gender Wage Gap Gop Pay Equity Paycheck Fairness Act Republicans