Closing the persistent wage gap between men and women is important, not only as a matter of fairness but as a matter of rudimentary family economics: Women are the primary or co-breadwinner in more than 60 percent of American families. That makes it all the more urgent to address the conspicuous discrepancy that sees a woman working full-time making 77 cents on average against $1 for a man working full-time.
A bill to help do that, the Paycheck Fairness Act, has repeatedly been blocked by congressional Republicans, despite strong support from President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill. The act, a necessary updating and strengthening of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, contains practical steps for promoting fair pay for women. It would enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and are governed not by bias but by business necessity. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for sharing salary information with co-workers. President Obama has already done this by executive order for federal contractors.
In the last round, in April, 42 Republicans voted to prevent the act from reaching the Senate floor for consideration. Half of those votes were cast by Republican senators from states where the gender pay gap exceeds the national average.
Now, with the midterm elections looming, Senate Democrats are trying again. The key vote, which will decide whether the Paycheck Fairness Act is allowed an up-or-down vote on the floor, is expected to occur on Monday.