On Wednesday, Senate Republicans once again blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from moving forward, filibustering the bill after it narrowly passed the House in April. The failure of the bill, which has been repeatedly killed by Republicans through the years, is yet another reminder that unless the filibuster is abolished, legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act will continue to languish. I hope Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are happy!
The Paycheck Fairness Act, first introduced in 1997, would, in its current form, update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by increasing civil penalties for violations of existing equal pay provisions. And it would do more, too. Via the National Women’s Law Center:
Among other provisions, this bill will prohibit employers from relying on salary history to set pay when hiring, guarantee women can receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination as are available for race- or ethnicity-based discrimination, promote pay transparency by protecting employees from retaliation for discussing or disclosing their wages, and require employers to report race and gender wage gaps to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
It’s a fairly modest if necessary bill with the good intentions of closing the gender wage gap. As Democratic Senator Patty Murray said on Tuesday, “There’s absolutely nothing controversial about making sure every worker gets paid fairly for their work.”
But to Senate Republicans, the Paycheck Fairness Act is, as Mitch McConnell put it on Monday, an example of Democrats pandering to “their radical base.” The Paycheck Fairness Act, McConnell said, according to CNN, is “exploiting the cause of pay fairness to send a windfall to trial lawyers, saddling hospitals, schools and small businesses with crippling new legal burdens if they fail to keep pace with woke social norms.”
How’s that for bipartisanship?
While both Manchin and Sinema haven’t made any public statements on their Republican colleagues filibustering a bill meant to chip away at the gender wage gap, Sinema has been public in her support for the bill as recently as this March.
“Arizona women deserve equal pay for equal work,” Sinema wrote—though not, I guess, a job that pays a minimum of $15 an hour, a stance that Sinema defended earlier this year by claiming that raising the federal minimum wage should be a “bipartisan process.”
Will the failure of this bill push Manchin and Sinema to change their thoughts about abolishing the filibuster? I’m not counting on it.