What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Individuals in the Workplace : S 3772. (Pay discrimination) Motion to begin debating a bill that would require employers to show that any disparity in pay between male and female employees is job-related and not based on gender/On agreeing to the motion (2010 senate Roll Call 249)
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S 3772. (Pay discrimination) Motion to begin debating a bill that would require employers to show that any disparity in pay between male and female employees is job-related and not based on gender/On agreeing to the motion
senate Roll Call 249     Nov 17, 2010
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on whether to begin debating a bill that would require employers to show that any disparity in pay between male and female employees is job-related and not based on gender. 

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the bill is intended to “close loopholes that have allowed employers to avoid responsibility for discriminatory pay.”  “Pay discrimination is hurting our middle class families and hurting our economy. Loopholes created by the courts and weak sanctions in the law have allowed many employers to avoid liability for engaging in gender-based pay discrimination,” Boxer said.  “It puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination—such as race, disability or age—by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages. And it also requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities.”  Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said a better name for the bill would be the “jobs for trial lawyers act.”  “I am confident that there is no Member of this Senate who would tolerate paying a woman less for the same work simply because she is a woman. As husbands, fathers, and mothers of working women, I believe we all recognize the gross inequity of discrimination in pay based on gender,” Enzi said. 
He added, though, that there are already two strong laws in existence to combat discrimination. 

“What the majority is trying to push through here today is of a very different nature. The primary beneficiary of this legislation will be trial lawyers. They will be able to bring bigger class action lawsuits—which usually result in coupons for the people that were disadvantaged—without even getting the consent of the plaintiffs, and they will have the weapon of uncapped damages to force employers to settle lawsuits even when they know they have done nothing wrong,” Enzi said.  “The litigation bonanza this bill would create would extend even to the smallest of small businesses, only further hampering our economic recovery.” 

Typically bills are brought to the floor of the Senate through a procedural motion called a “motion to proceed,” which is usually approved by voice vote as a routine matter.  However, if a senator wants to hold up consideration, all he or she has to do is remove consent – which was the case with this bill.  Instead, the Democratic leadership called a vote on beginning debate on the bill. This was necessary because Republicans had threatened to hold up the bill’s consideration indefinitely with a filibuster, causing Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file what is known as a “cloture motion,” which, in essence, is a vote on bringing debate on a bill or amendment to a close, which is what this vote was on.

By a vote of 58-41, the motion to begin debating the bill was rejected.  Though more voted yes than no, this particular type of vote requires 60 in order to be considered approved.  All but one Democrat present voted to begin debating the bill.  Every Republican present voted against beginning debate on the bill.  The end result is that Senate Democrats could not garner enough support to open debate on a bill intended to curb gender-based pay discrimination.

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