On Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans blocked Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski's Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to reduce workplace discrimination against women. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the bill has nothing to do with women, and that Democrats are simply making show votes for their "powerful pals on the Left."
Leading up to the Senate debate, both Democrats and Republicans trotted out women to talk about how their political parties help them. The White House is currently under scrutiny for paying female staffers 88 cents on the dollar compared to their male co-workers. (The most widely cited statistic on the matter say that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make, but that doesn't tell the whole story.) So the GOP has tried to paint the Paycheck Fairness Act as hypocritical. Democrats responded by claiming Republicans don't care about women at all. We will keep hearing this rhetoric all the way to the midterms.
As Alan Fram at the Associated Press notes, this is the third consecutive election year where Democrats have brought up a paycheck fairness bill. And Democrats have certainly made the issue about women this time, claiming that Republicans who oppose the bill oppose equal pay for equal work. In practice, the bill would make it harder for employers to pay women less than men (more regulation) and easier for aggrieved workers to sue.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring the bill up for another vote before the midterms. He repeated the party line today, sighing, "For reasons known only to them, Senate Republicans don't seem to be interested in closing wage gaps for working women."