On April 9, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act for a third time. The motion to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate — not even for a vote, but simply for debate — failed to meet the required 60 votes needed to overcome a potential Republican filibuster.
The reasons given by Republican lawmakers for blocking the bill have ranged from empty attempts to change the subject to general absurdity. One thing seems fairly obvious: Those in control of the Republican party are completely disinterested in providing women with equal pay for equal work.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., claimed that the clause in the Paycheck Fairness Act making it illegal for companies to retaliate against employees who bring lawsuits against their employers over pay inequality would only serve to increase the number of lawsuits brought against employers by employees suffering discrimination.
I’ll give you a second to read that paragraph again.
Essentially, McConnell’s response is that if the Paycheck Fairness Act passed, it would do what it is supposed to do. Which would be terrible! Passing a law that will do what it’s supposed to do? Preposterous! He also added that the increase in lawsuits would simply “line the pockets of trial lawyers.” Which is a fair point. I’m sure there’s an entire Democratic super PAC of trial lawyers lobbying day and night to get this thing passed.
But here’s the thing: An increase in lawsuits can only be a good thing. Because if you’re getting sued for gender-based wage discrimination, it’s probably because there is gender-based discrimination in the wages you are giving to your employees. If there isn’t, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said it best: “The best way not to have a lawsuit is to follow the law.”
Giving employees the power to stand up for themselves when they believe they are being discriminated against, without the fear of retaliation, can only serve to bring employers into line. If employers want to avoid lawsuits, they can follow the law and pay their male and female employees equally.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., said, “Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending (that) Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policy.”
I’m not quite sure what the failures of Democratic economic policy have to do with the fact that women are, in fact, undeniably being paid 77.5 percent of the salary that men receive on average for the same work. I can’t imagine a single woman out there who says to herself “How dare the Democrats use my socioeconomic inequality to effect change! I’m not being paid an equal wage compared to my male coworkers, and I like it that way!”
The saddest part, Jenkins, is that you are a woman. If you really think that wage discrimination isn’t an issue, and you really think that your female constituents feel like pawns in some grand chess match of obfuscation, then do us all a favor and resign.
It’s time to face facts: Gender-based wage discrimination is very real, and it’s happening across America. Not at every company, not for every woman, but it is happening, and it is wrong. The fact that Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act for literally no good reason shows that Washington, D.C., is still a place plagued by gridlock where, to once more quote Mikulski, “When all is said and done, more gets said than gets done.”
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