Senate Passes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The Senate tonight passed by a strong majority the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (S. 181) after defeating a series of Republican hostile amendments. The Senate floor debate for the Act was led by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dean of the women Senators, for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) after Majority Leader Senator Reid (D-NV) navigated the bill to the floor.

“President Obama and the Democratic Congress are keeping their pledge to women and all workers to reverse the Supreme Court decision that gutted the right of employees to fight wage discrimination,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “We’re on a roll to rebuilding women’s rights and civil rights taken away during the Bush era.”

The Senate Act, which has already passed the House in a version coupled with the Paycheck Fairness Act, will go back to the House as a single bill. The House is expected to pass the Senate bill on Tuesday. President Obama is expected to sign it into law shortly thereafter. In almost straight party line votes the Senate kept the pledge of President Obama to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act almost immediately after being sworn in.

Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s killer amendment was defeated 55-40 in a nearly straight party vote with Democrats voting against it – only Republican Olympia (ME) voted with Democrats. Several other debilitating Republican amendments also went down to defeat.

The Ledbetter Act corrects the Roberts Supreme Court decision that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. The Act passed helps not only women, but all workers who are victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.

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