The Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill designed to narrow the gender wage gap and give women the resources to negotiate higher pay, died in the Senate on Tuesday in the face of GOP opposition.
“We have been talking about the wage gap for years now with no action taken by this Senate. Women with the same jobs, the same degrees – sometimes even better degrees – than their male colleagues are making less money. For women of color, the gap is even wider,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor before the vote. “This is a fundamental issue of fairness.”
But his Republican colleagues were unmoved. The final vote (49 in favor, 50 opposed) failed to clear the 60 vote threshold needed to overcome the filibuster. The House passed the bill in April.
Despite pre-existing laws to narrow the wage gap, the problem persists. In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. That means women would have to work an additional 42 days to make the same amount of money as their male counterparts. The Labor Department says the discrepancy is even more pronounced for women of color: “Compared with white men with the same education, Black and Latina women with only a bachelor’s degree have the largest gap at 65%, and Black women with advanced degrees earn 70% of what white men with advanced degrees earn.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act, according to a press release, would have “provide[d] more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.” Politico provides more details:
It would also bar employers from retaliating against workers for sharing salary information and from inquiring into or taking into consideration an employee’s wage history.Another provision wouldauthorize the creation of a grant program that would train women on salary negotiations and require public education regarding wage discrimination, among other things.
For Democrats, the defeat is a stark reminder that even in the minority, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Republican colleagues have the power to kill legislation as long as the filibuster remains intact. McConnell had said the legislation – which addressed an issue most Americans want fixed – appeals to the Democrat’s “radical base.”
“If the Republican leader wants to talk about radical positions, I’d say that opposing legislation to provide equal pay for women supported by a solid majority of voters is a radical position,” Schumer responded.
The Washington Post explains how the defeat of the bill – and the enduring power of the filibuster – impacts the state of play in D.C. politics:
The political dynamic has prompted some Democrats once again to ask whether it is time to eliminate the filibuster, which in effect would allow them to adopt major legislation in the Senate without working with Republicans or relying on arcane legislative maneuvers. Moderate Democrats have been reluctant to take the step, though, and one of the party’s pivotal swing votes, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), reiterated his firm refusal to weaken the filibuster in an opinion piece published over the weekend.