Senate Democrats plan to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote Tuesday, two years after Republicans narrowly defeated it.
That could be the likely outcome again. But even in defeat, Democrats hope to score political points in their effort to paint the GOP as hostile to programs and services that affect women. The legislation expands on protections that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 put in place. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is expected to support the bill.
One of her potential Republicans opponents, Rep. Todd Akin of suburban St. Louis, opposed the measure when it came up in the House two years ago.
“He feels like this is more government intrusion into the marketplace,” said Akin campaign spokesman Ryan Hite.
A second GOP Senate candidate, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, also opposes updating the half-century old Equal Pay Act, which passed in 1963.
In a statement from her campaign, Steelman said: “President Obama and Majority Leader (Harry) Reid have stated several times that the Lily Ledbetter Act equalized pay for Women in America, so it seems to me that this bill is just political posturing intended to deflect attention from the horrific employment numbers and faltering economy.”
But the Lilly Ledbetter law, named after a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. employee who sued over pay discrimination, did not equalize pay. It restored protections that the Supreme Court removed in Ledbetter’s suit against Goodyear, according to the Women’s National law Center, but did not close certain loopholes that affect women’s pay, like being punished for talking about your salary.
Based on U.S. Census data, the center estimates that women who work year round are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a male worker.
The third Republican Senate candidate, former St. Louis businessman John Brunner, told PolitcoMo: “I’ve been in the workplace for 30-plus years here, and the whole issue is there are systems in place for those issues of discrimination. I believe these issues are fully covered.”