The Paycheck Fairness Act -- a bill aimed at reducing the national gender wage gap -- has passed a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate with the support of Democratic Sens. Amy Klobcuhar and Al Franken.
Wednesday’s vote paved the way for debate on the measure, but does not guarantee passage.
The bill stalled in April after Senate Democrats were unable to persuade any Republicans to vote in favor of the measure.
Now Senate Democrats have revived the legislation as part of an election year appeal to women voters, arguing that they’re giving the GOP another chance to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.
Democrats said despite current pay discrimination laws, the Paycheck Fairness Act is needed at a time when women are still making 77 cents to every dollar that a man earns, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
If enacted, the Paycheck Fairness Act would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against a worker who inquires about or discloses her or his wages or the wages of another employee in a complaint or investigation. It also would make employers liable to civil actions and require the Labor Department to increase outreach and training with employers to eliminate pay inequality.
The legislation is part of Democrats’ “Fair Shot” agenda — a set of bills intended to highlight differences between the two parties ahead of November’s election.
Republicans have insisted that while they support equal pay for equal work, the bill would increase the number of civil lawsuits. They also argue that the legislation is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.
With less than two weeks until the Senate adjourns for campaign season, Republicans have accused Democrats of wasting time trying to score political points. Both chambers of Congress have roughly two weeks to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded after Sept. 30 and avert a shutdown.