WASHINGTON - The Senate defeated a proposal by a vote of 52 to 47 this week that would have made it easier for women to receive pay equality, The New York Times reports.
"It€™s a very sad day here in the United States Senate," said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-CA) after the vote.
The bill sought to build on the 2009 Ledbetter legislation ending the statute of limitations on equal pay lawsuits. The revised bill sought to protect women from employer retaliation after inquiring about pay disparities while allowing them to recover punitive damages in cases of paycheck discrimination.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) criticized the breadth of the proposal. "Let me be clear: Pay discrimination based on gender is unacceptable," Heller said. "Despite the political rhetoric around here, everyone agrees on this fact. The question is, will the Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? And the simple answer is no."
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) acknowledged concerns that the bill would create litigation and challenging compliance issues. However, she said, "Where are these women supposed to go? What are they supposed to do, have an appointment with their congressman? Show the congressman their paycheck?"
Prior to the vote, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) criticized Republican legislators as well as presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for failing to take a position on the bill. "They want to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the reality," he said.