GOP blocks Senate bill curbing gender pay gap

Lawmakers say measure could hinder employers from granting raises or permitting flexible hours
Associated Press
Apr 9, 2014

Republicans blocked a Senate bill Wednesday aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women, an election-year ritual that Democrats hope will help spur women to back them in this fall's congressional elections.

GOP lawmakers said the measure could hinder employers from granting raises, or permitting flexible hours in exchange for lower pay, for fear of costly lawsuits. For Democrats, the bill was the latest stressing income-fairness they are pushing this campaign season, a procession that includes proposals to extend jobless benefits, boost the minimum wage and help students and families afford college loans.

"Republicans in Congress continue to oppose serious efforts to create jobs, grow the economy, and level the playing field for working families," President Barack Obama said in a written statement after the vote. "That's wrong, and it's harmful for our national efforts to rebuild an economy that gives every American who works hard a fair shot to get ahead."

Republicans, whose campaign focus has been on an economy that is still recovering from a severe recession, said it was the Democratic bill itself that would wreak damage. They were backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

"At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss — all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "In other words, it's just another Democrat idea that threatens to hurt the very people it claims to help."

Democrats pushed the same legislation the last two election years, 2012 and 2010, only to see Senate Republicans scuttle the measures.

The bill by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is aimed at tightening the 1963 law that made it illegal to pay women less than men for comparable jobs because of their gender.

"When I hear all these phony reasons, some are mean and some are meaningless, I do get emotional," she said of arguments against the legislation. "I get angry. I get outraged. I get volcanic."

Mikulski was the latest Democrat to play off former CIA Director Michael Hayden's recent comment that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was motivated by "emotional feeling" when she sought an investigation of the spy agency's harsh treatment of terrorism suspects.

Her measure would shrink the loopholes employers can cite to justify such discrepancies and prevent them from punishing workers who share salary information. It would also make class-action suits about paycheck unfairness easier and allow workers to seek punitive and compensatory damages.

Wednesday's vote was 53-44 for debating the legislation — seven fewer than Democrats needed to keep the bill moving forward. Every voting Republican was against continuing work on the measure.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who usually aligns with Democrats, voted with the GOP. He said later the bill ignored the real reasons for the pay gap between genders, such as companies that make it hard for women with children to continue working.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched to vote against the legislation — a maneuver that makes it easier for him to demand a future roll call on the bill. Top Democrats have promised to force Republicans to vote again on the issue before November.

"This won't be the last time they have to go home to their constituents and explain that they don't think this is a worthy issue," said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said discrepancies in pay between men and women are worth exploring. She said she opposed the Democratic bill because "perhaps this is more an exercise in political messaging than an effort to try to resolve what I believe is an issue."

Women consistently vote more often for Democrats than men do. They tilted Democratic in every election since 1976 but two: 2002 and 2010. In those two elections women divided about evenly, even as Republicans picked up congressional seats.

Women averaged 77 percent of men's earnings in 2012, according to Census Bureau figures. That is better than the 61 percent differential of 1960, but little changed since 2001.

While few deny workplace discrimination exists, politicians and analysts debate its extent.

Data shows that men tend to out-earn women at every level of education and in comparable jobs.

Yet women generally work shorter hours and are likelier to take lower-paying jobs. Sixty-two percent of the 3.3 million workers earning at or below the minimum wage last year were women, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The Big Dog's back

GOP=women haters.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You're so right! They hate women so much that not only are they actively suppressing them but they are kidnapping them, raping them, and mentally abusing them for years:

"CASTRO,ARIEL,,,A,DEM,10/05/2002,2207,,SEYMOUR AVE"

Oh. Well darn. I guess registered Democrats are women haters, too, eh?


Okay HZ, that response bordered on the ridiculous.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

How so? Seems to me that a Democrat here was the one who wants his kidnapped women barefoot, pregnant, and illiterate, eh? "But surely", you may say, "not all Democrats are like the psycho rapist-kidnapper Ariel Castro!"

To which I can answer, "Yes, and don't call me Shirley."

Now that we both agree that all registered Democrats aren't scumbag pieces of filth, we can extend our bipartisan logic to our partisan friend Big Dog, who in making his claim, somehow you did not find ridiculous.


C'mon Hero, Castro is a criminal not a politician. He is also dead. I really fail to see any connection.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone



Hitler was a Vegetarian , Do we condemn them as well by association ? Kind of a cheap shot . I thought you were all about keeping the conversation on a mature level . Oh , how the mighty do fall !!! Welcome to the dregs of the Sandusky Register comments section ; )))

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You'll notice that the entire point of my post, as I illustrated to deertracker (if the original intent and tone of my comments wasn't obvious), was to make the point of exactly what you said. You can't just make a broad, insensitive remark based on a stereotype. Everyone can't be defined by a few poor examples.

I'll happily accept your invitation to muck about the "dregs", but I don't need to be hopelessly lost within them.


I agree that we do get a bit over zealous when the issue mean a lot to us sometimes , and that reflects in the comments . You have to admit though in this day and age there really is no reason why women should not be paid equally for doing the same jobs as men . Some of the GOP arguments are pretty weak . When laws were passed forbidding discrimination based on race it didn't destroy the economy did it ? Anyway , this is the kind of issue that brings out the colorful tirade that dwells in us all . It's fun to play in the mud once in a while ; )

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I agree which is why I try to weave wit and sarcasm into my points. But your statement is made on faulty statistics, which even if we accepted as truth, make those fighting for this legislation some of the worst and hypocritical offenders. Your comment seems to indicate it's an unregulated wild west out there which isn't the case at all.

Which laws and entities already exist to handle cases of unfair pay? Where was this 77% number pulled?


Re." I thought you were all about keeping the conversation on a mature level ."

I am somewhat confused as you feel we should stay at a mature level and you do consider "GOP=women haters." as being mature or continually using the term "wingnuts" or "Raygun" as well as others. I do note that he usually does that when he has nothing creditable to reply to someone Else's comment that does make sense. Actually the dog does cause me to have thoughts of my grade school era as in grade school we did make up many immature name tags to label different people and things.


More senseless babble from doggy doo.


Of COURSE the GOP is blocking the bill. If it's anything related to equality or discrimination, you can always count on them to be on the wrong side. Theirs is a long history of bigotry and close-mindedness. The Bull Connors of today are members of the Tea Party, but they don't seem to notice or care...

Dr. Information

This has nothing to do with the pay gap and everything to do with what else is in the bill. If it was a one page straight forward gender gap bill, it would pass. Its the Democrats, that try to tie in all this other hogwash to the bill, that cause this bill to fail in the house…..and then the Democrats can cry foul.

Smoke and mirrors.


Enlighten us!


Exactly. As the article states the Dems revive this bill every election year because they know it will never pass due to the poison pills attached to it. This way they can claim Repubs hate women. Same old tactics, and the only ones who aren't on to it are the tip sitters like coasternut, big dogs rear, and deerturd. For those who want enlightenment, read the bill yourself, the only ones who stand to gain from it are trial lawyers.


Enlighten us or move on.

Dr. Information

Ive read the bill, I know what is in it. Its load with a lot of extras that makes it impassable. Do your own homework, read it yourself and stop asking someone to do everything for you oh entitled one.

The Big Dog's back

There are no "extras".

Dr. Information

There are, you just can't read. Not surprised however.


Re:"If it's anything related to equality or discrimination, you can always count on them to be on the wrong side."

Is the WH and Democratic staff members of congress immune from the equality standards?

Obama has taken a beating as some news sources are questioning how he can say what he is and the Democratic congressmen can say what they say while ignoring the equality standards of their own staffs. J Carney did address the problem by stating that WH and congress staff members receive different pay not because of male or female but because of education, experience, abilities and a few others to justify the difference. Gee I wonder if maybe in the private sector some persons have a difference in education, experience, abilities etc. or is it just a Democratic exclusive right to have?

My wife is always putting quotes around the house on the refrigerator door on cabinets etc. and awhile back she pasted one on the vanity mirror that stated "YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK SO LOUD THAT I CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING" kind of reminds me of Obama.


I appreciate that the White House has explained why they too are guilty of supposed gender pay discrimination. Funny thing is their reasoning sounds suspiciously similar to the reasons industries give.....
I wonder if the supporters of this administration will show they know what the White House's explanation was before they accuse others of hate

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

At least there was a half-arsed attempt at the end to explain WHY there is a "discrepancy". When you take the entire aggregate of the population you just can't use the "77%" number as that is about as non-descriptive and extremely broad as it comes. In fact, context was provided here earlier in the form of this story:

But, let's pretend that this is a genuine number and use the compassion for women Democrats seem to have (and amazing how Sen. Reid gets a pass on being a woman-hater for voting how he did, with the additional note of this story does absolutely nothing to say what was in the bill except vague references). I wonder which Democrats "hate" women the most? Let's see...

"Among those with the greatest disparity is Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), who paid his female staffers only 72 cents on the dollar compared to male staffers. The average female salary was $20,861 below the average male salary.

Alaska’s Sen. Mark Begich (D.) was even tougher on his female staffers. He paid his female employees just 71 cents on the dollar, for a gender pay gap of $23,504.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.), who just last week held a press conference on the issue of equal pay, was also found to pay her female staffers far less compared to males. The average male salary was $13,037 higher than the average female salary. Women made just 82 cents for each dollar made by men.

Numerous senators up for reelection have an especially large gap between male and female salaries:

Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.): $15,343 higher average male salary;
Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.): $9,783 higher average male salary;
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.): $6,267 higher average male salary;
Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.): $5,799 higher average male salary;
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.): $3,189 higher average male salary."

Surely, SURELY, the President himself doesn't also hate women? Financially of course. It would seem that when it comes to berating others about disparity (something he mysteriously never gets into how his figures are determined or seems unwilling to do anything other than call out Republicans for a nebulous, absurd notion like this) he may yet himself be the Commander-in-Chief on the "War on Women". Let's see:

"According to the 2011 annual report on White House staff, female employees earned a median annual salary of $60,000, which was about 18 percent less than the median salary for male employees ($71,000)."

Well golly-gee-willackers! How could that ever be? It seems that he needs to pass a law to pay his own staffers "equal pay"? Why haven't they sued him under the Ledbetter Act? But, but, but...we already have laws that do such a thing (~cough~likeimmigrationandothers~cough~). He must have absolutely no faith in entities such as the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ( Only HIS laws are worth enforcing, looking into, or understanding I guess?

But what is most disappointing about this is that despite having a wide-open softball pitched at them, Republicans don't even bother to take the opportunity to discuss this issue with their constituents and instead retaliate against a party that is clearly using women as fodder for election results.

"At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss — all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "In other words, it's just another Democrat idea that threatens to hurt the very people it claims to help."

Did you read that? Isn't that the most pathetic response to this accusation? No substance. Just a nya-nya that actually doesn't advance any kind of discussion or understanding of this supposed issue. Yet here we have "Republican leadership" and on top of it this guy has been a Senator for nearly THIRTY YEARS! THIRTY YEARS! Did i say THIRTY YEARS? Because I wanted to convey that this is what we get from a THIRTY YEAR Senator. By the by, please feel free to apply that to Harry Reid who has been in office nearly the same amount of time.

If you all as readers and constituents don't ask for more, you will never, ever, ever get anything better than this tripe of a conversation sluicing from D.C. It'll be the same BS from the same two parties who want to keep your emotions stirred yet never give you the decency to explain why. Apparently that is how they intend to remain in "power", not by treating you as a competent individual with a heart, mind, and reasoning of your own to understand these issues.


~snap, snap~ OH HEY, NOW IT'S THIS!


This is how you and I are treated. It's ironic that the ACA has us labeled as metals because we are very much a currency or commodity to these people. Why bother explaining our position to everyone when we just need a 51% threshold, right (or 60% in this case)? Right?



I see our 'liberal' friends are too busy to join us in this discussion.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If you want some good chuckles, go to the sister story to this over at the Huffington Post.

The void can be filled here if we just read what is posted by the commentators there. If anything else some of the "arguments" made can be preempted that may arise by those you mention. I've said it before but I long for a literate, articulate "liberal" (that's kind of a broad term especially because I am "liberal" in some major ways) who can come on and discuss things like this without the bumper-stickers or party hackery.

Oddly I haven't seen anything on the DailyKos about this yet, but that will be a bundle of fun when it does.


Smoke and mirrors to gain votes this fall. So sad to see them try to use women this way. I sure would think most women can see right through this and vote these people out of office!


The GOP War Against Women continues... One would think that they would lay off, considering it is an election year.

Let's strip away the rhetoric to the base issue: GOP Congressmen think that women shouldn't get paid the same amount as a man holding the exact same job. Anything else they say is meant to be a smokescreen/distraction from the obvious, and they do that for one reason: they know that their point-of-view is reprehensible, outdated and chauvinistic.

Sorry, Republican apologists: If your Congressmen vote to keep women from getting equal pay for equal work, then they are working AGAINST women. It really IS that simple.


You are the typical moron the democrats are pandering to. There has been an equal pay law on the books since 1963. This is policital posturing.

Did you not read the end of the article that says women tend to work less hours and take lower level jobs?

Did you vote to re-elect the president, who's office is an offender of women's equal pay? If this is such a huge issue that the democrats promote every election year, why, 6 years in, is the President's staff still underpaying women?


Oh I'm sure coasternut understands the whole thing. What the Dems and people like him want is another special class of people that can continue to work less hours and lower level jobs but get paid at the executive level without putting in the amount of hours required or gaining the skill required to obtain a higher level position.


Coaster......apparently your president feels like the GOP since there is an unbalance in womens pay on his own staff. Even your clone Jay Carney couldn't give a good reason.'s less than the national average.