Senate

Senate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked legislation aimed at addressing pay inequality, marking their second successful use of the filibuster under President Biden.

Senators voted 49-50 to try to advance the legislation, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the procedural hurdle.

The bill would limit employers to “bona fide” factors such as education, training and experience when justifying pay differentials in wage discrimination claims.

Employers would also be prohibited from retaliating against workers who compare salaries and barred from inquiring about prospective employees’ salary histories during the hiring process.

The bill would further direct the Labor Department to establish a grant program providing negotiation skills and training for girls and women.

“Right now an employer can brush aside reports of pay discrimination by saying things like ‘Well, he was a better negotiator’ or ‘They work in different buildings.’ I mean, what does that have to do with it?” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The bill, which previously passed the House in a 217-210 vote, was widely expected to run into a wall in the Senate.

While Democrats control the chamber because Vice President Harris is able to break ties, they still would have needed at least 10 GOP votes in order to advance the bill on Tuesday evening.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), pointing to the paycheck legislation, argued that it was a sign that the “era of bipartisanship is over.”

“I think that’s coming to a screeching halt this month because the majority leader is starting with the so-called Paycheck Fairness bill late this afternoon, which is essentially a giveaway to the plaintiffs lawyers in America, a series of totally partisan bills designed to get no Republican support,” McConnell told reporters.

It’s the second successful filibuster waged by Republicans since Biden was sworn in. The first occurred late last month when Republicans largely stuck together to block a Jan. 6 commission bill from moving forward, with six GOP members breaking ranks.

Those are likely the first two in what is shaping up to be a long summer of filibuster fights, as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vows to bring a voting rights bill to the floor in a matter of weeks. 

In addition to the voting rights package, Schumer is mulling holding votes on gun reforms and LGBTQ rights. 

“It’s ridiculous that Senate Republicans will not even allow the Senate to debate a straightforward piece of legislation to help provide equal pay for working women in America, just like it was ridiculous for the Republican minority to filibuster bipartisan legislation to create an independent commission on Jan. 6,” Schumer said. 

“Americans expect their government to make progress to prove our country, but Senate Republicans once again seem to be choosing obstruction,” he added. 

Tags Chuck Schumer Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Patty Murray Paycheck Fairness Act

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