Unsurprisingly, and overshadowed by the Wisconsin recall, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday. There was, of course, a 52 to 47 majority in favor of fair pay on a party line vote, but in our broken Senate, as we know, a majority is not enough to even get to a final up or down vote. Neither is broad-based public support:
"This is a common-sense measure with broad public support. Nine out of 10 Americans – including 81 percent of men and 77 percent of Republicans – support this legislation," [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said. "But once again, the only Republicans who are left opposing a common-sense measure to improve our economy and help middle-class families are the ones here in Washington.""It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families," President Obama said in a statement. "My Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right for equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and every American gets a fair shot to succeed."
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who voted to block the bill, is introducing another bill that would address one small part of what the Paycheck Fairness Act does, allowing women to talk to their coworkers about salaries—often the only way to find out if you're being discriminated against—but omitting government actions that would help uncover discrimination or actively help women negotiate for better salaries. Heller faces a close race against Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley and is working hard to prove that he's a friend to women, so this is the baseline: a Republican trying to look like he's not part of the war on women will vote against a pay equity bill that has majority support in the Senate ... then water it down and try to claim credit.