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Paycheck Fairness Act Fails in Senate

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By Jason Beahm on November 19, 2010 6:04 AM

So much for the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill which was designed to put an end to wage discrimination died an unceremonious death, when the bill came up two votes short of moving forward. The bill received 58 votes, but needed 60 in order to survive the cloture vote. Senate Republicans are taking credit for blocking the measure.

Cloture is a parliamentary procedure, which is used to move a debate along to a vote. If a motion for cloture passes, debate must end, and a vote must be taken. Cloture is used to defeat filibusters, or to avoid the introduction of amendments designed to derail the bill at issue.

The House version of the bill was one of the first measures passed by the Obama Administration. The President joined civil rights groups and labor leaders in support of the bill. Republicans and the business lobby contended that the bill would have subjected employers to increased liability and litigation. They were particularly concerned with the removal of limits on punitive and compensatory damages in sex-discrimination employment cases.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would have amended the Equal Pay Act by putting a limit on employers' ability to pay different wages to different sexes. The vote came in the first week of the new term held after the midterm elections where Republicans made substantial gains in the House and Senate. The Paycheck Fairness Act failed by a vote of 58-41 along party lines.

President Obama said that the failure of the bill was yet another example of a "partisan minority," blocking a worthy measure. Obama said he was "deeply disappointed" that the bill did not pass. "[T]his bill would ensure that American women and their families aren't bringing home smaller paychecks because of discrimination," Obama said in a written statement.

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