WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would have ensured women are paid the same amount as their male counterparts.
The Senate failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. The bill also would have prohibited employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, and would have required the Labor Department to increase its outreach to employers to help eliminate pay disparities.
The final vote was 52-47, with all Republicans opposing the bill. That included female Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
President Barack Obama called it "incredibly disappointing" that Republicans would block a bill relating to equal pay for women.
"This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination," Obama said in a statement. "It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families."
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used a procedural maneuver that gives him the ability to bring up the bill again on another day. He said he would leave the door open to taking it up again in another form.
"It is a very sad day here in the U.S. Senate," Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the author of the bill, said after the vote. "But it's a sadder day every day when a paycheck comes and women continue to make less than men. We are sorry that this vote occurred strictly on party lines."
Mikulski said she refuses to let her bill "die on parliamentary entanglements" and, after quoting Abigail Adams, called on women everywhere to keep fighting until the bill becomes law.