Senate Republicans Tuesday blocked a vote on President Barack Obama's Paycheck Fairness Act. The legislation would have updated and strengthened 1963's Equal Pay Act, which outlawed the practice of paying women and men differently for performing the same job.
"It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
Republicans balk at regulation
Senate Republicans said the act would lead to unnecessary lawsuits and regulation, according to Politico.
Politico quoted Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who said: "The question is: Will the Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? The simple answer is no. Unfortunately, the only winners under this legislation would be trial lawyers, giving them a windfall, exposing employers to unlimited punitive damages."
Among other things, the Paycheck Fairness Act would have changed the requirements of class action lawsuits and protected employees who disclosed their salaries from employer retaliation, according to the White House.
Wage gap more of a problem today?
The latest Census data reveal that American women currently earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn for equal work. The wage gap is arguably a bigger problem today than it was in 1963, when more households were headed by male breadwinners.
Today, women comprise nearly half of the workforce, according to Forbes, and a recent Huffington Post article addresses the rise of female-headed households. The article cites a 2010 study that showed women younger than 30 outearned their male peers in most urban areas, and it quoted Liza Mundy, author of "The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family," who wrote in a recent article for Time:
Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men ... In 2009, the most recent year for which U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures are available, nearly 4 in 10 working wives outearned their husbands -- an increase of more than 50 percent from 20 years before.
This means more households than ever are feeling a greater financial impact from unequal pay practices, and equal pay for equal work may be necessary in the future for Americans to maintain their current standard of living.
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