Test Vote is Just the first in Pay Equity Civil Rights Skirmish
Washington, DC - Under heavy pressure from women's and other civil rights groups, the Senate Wednesday narrowly failed to pass a test vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831).
"We got 56 senators to vote for pay equity," said Lisa M. Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. "While we needed 60 votes to move to final passage, it's clear a majority of the Senate supports this critical civil rights legislation."
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrects the Supreme Court's wrongheaded decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. AAUW believes the May 2007 decision severely limits the ability of victims of pay discrimination to seek vindication. "The decision also turns 40 years of legal precedent and EEOC practice on its head," said Maatz.
The legislation is a narrow fix that returns the legal standard to what it was prior to the Ledbetter decision. "There are no surprises or poison pills," Maatz said. "The bill is a reasonable response to an unreasonable decision, and AAUW and its members will not stop until the Senate gets it right."
AAUW noted that the pure vote on the measure was actually 57-42; in a procedural move, Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his vote so that he can bring the bill up again at a later date.
"A large majority of women identify equal pay for equal work as a national priority in this election year," said Maatz. "Equal Pay Day and continued pay equity efforts this month serve as an effective reminder of this fact for our elected officials as voters consider their choices."