On a 53-44 vote, supporters fell short of the 60 votes needed to
advance the bill. Republicans called the measure a political ploy
whose purpose was to attract women voters to the Democratic side in
the November elections.
Forty-two Republicans and one independent, Angus King of Maine,
voted against the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched
his vote from yes to no to reserve his right to bring up the bill
Democrats cast all 53 yes votes.
The action came a day after President Barack Obama signed two
executive orders to help close what has been a longstanding gender
pay gap by requiring federal contractors to disclose more wage data
and allow employees to share salary information.
The Senate Democrats' Paycheck Fairness Act would have imposed the
same requirement on private employers.
But Republicans dismissed the bill, saying pay discrimination is
already illegal and that the legislation would prompt frivolous
lawsuits and discourage companies from hiring women.
"This legislation would double down on job loss — all while lining
the pockets of trial lawyers," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch
Reid rejected the Republicans' criticism, saying: "Simply put, the
Paycheck Fairness Act gives American women the fair shot they
The bill is the first piece of the Senate Democrats' new legislative
agenda, called "A Fair Shot For Everyone," which is set to be voted
on in the coming weeks and months in advance of the November
Other pending measures include bills to increase the minimum wage,
make college more affordable, boost jobs through manufacturing and
help small business development.
[to top of second column]
None of the bills may become law, but Democrats see the votes on
them as a chance to rally their liberal base as they seek to retain
control of the Senate and minimize anticipated Republican pickups in
the House of Representatives on Election Day.
Obama intends to hold campaign-style events, as he did on Tuesday at
the White House in signing the executive orders, to help draw
attention to the votes, Democratic aides said.
The president has often cited data from the Census that show the
average full-time female worker in the United States earned 77 cents
for every dollar earned by a man. Critics say the figure is
misleading because factors such as types of jobs and hours worked
affect whether people get higher- or lower-paying jobs.
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; editing by G. Crosse and Bill Trott)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.