Senate Republicans Filibuster Paycheck Fairness Act: Statement of Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal

The Feminist Majority is appalled that Republican Senators listened to voices of major corporations in not even letting the Paycheck Fairness Act come to the Senate floor for a vote. The Paycheck Fairness Act failed to get the 60 votes necessary to break the filibuster in the US Senate today and was not brought to the floor, with all Republicans voting against the bill and all Democrats voting for the bill in a straight party-line vote.

Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal commented, “The Republican war on women rages on. First they attacked birth control, then the Violence Against Women Act, and now they’ve attacking pay equity. With the straight party-line vote, the GOP caved to big business interests and denied women the equality they deserve.”

Some Republican senators, such as Scott Brown (R-MA), stated that they were worried about small businesses complying. But the driving force lobbying against the Paycheck Fairness Act was the Chamber of Commerce. The vast majority of the Chamber of Commerce funding comes from major multi-national corporations, many of them foreign corporations. “It was especially disappointing that Senators Snowe, Collins, and Scott Brown voted with big business interests that want loopholes to prevail and pay equity laws to be weak,” said Smeal.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was brought as a cloture vote to break the filibuster requiring 60 votes in order to move the bill to the floor for consideration. Earlier, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives voted 233- 180 in nearly a straight party-line vote against bringing the Paycheck Fairness Act to the floor. The bill was last brought to a Senate vote two years ago, but it received only 58 of the 60 necessary votes.

The Paycheck Fairness Act seeks to protect women’s right to equal pay by closing loophole of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Under the proposed law, employers would have been required to demonstrate that salary differences between men and women who do the same work are not due to gender. Employers would have also been barred from retaliating against employees who share paycheck information with coworkers.