A few weeks ago, voters sent a clear message: They want Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to address the issues facing working families. But when Senators took their first vote after returning to Washington, they missed the chance to do just that. Yesterday’s vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act was a failed opportunity and a real disappointment for all of us who care about fairness, women’s progress, and economic security for working families.
Equal pay for equal work is one of the most fundamental American principles and this legislation was the perfect chance to demonstrate bipartisan consensus for a just and popular bill after a divisive election season. Instead, we saw partisan posturing that will keep America’s women from taking a critical step toward greater economic security for themselves and their families.
As most of you already know, the Senate could not muster enough votes to end the filibuster against the Paycheck Fairness Act because every Republican voted against it. The legislation had bipartisan support in the House, but not this week in the Senate.
This procedural roadblock will have real consequences for working families by denying them badly needed remedies for the discriminatory pay practices that still plague our workplaces 45 years after the Equal Pay Act became law. There is no question that this vote has stalled progress on women’s wages, family budgets and economic growth.
But this is not the end of the battle. Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of supporters across the country sent messages to tell Congress that fair pay is important to them. We are stronger than we have ever been, and determined to win this fight.
The good news is that fair pay is also a top priority for President Obama. He met with representatives from women’s organizations, including me, immediately after the vote yesterday. It was encouraging to hear him underscore his deep personal commitment to the issue, and to talk about next steps.
The Paycheck Fairness Act had overwhelming public support. We will make sure that this fight continues until the legislation is law. As Debra Ness said in her statement following yesterday’s vote: “Critical advances for women have never come quickly or easily in this country, but they always come. We will achieve fair pay for women in this country. We must continue our march toward equality.”