Senate Republicans Tell Women: You Are Mere Pawns

In the great game to topple the President and beat the Democrats, every Republican Senator voted as a united bloc this week to stop the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act for women.

For those who want to blame President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, the White House Council for Women and Girls, and Senator Reid–your anger is misplaced. They have been working consistently with the coalition to pass the act, and the President and Jarrett met with women’s leaders at the White House after the vote. They wanted to make sure we knew that they will continue working with us until the Paycheck Fairness Act is passed. The President is confident the act will pass, and cited the majority of Republican and independent women who support pay equity.

Senate Republicans, who voted in lockstep, don’t care how or whether women can put food on the table or roofs over their heads. They sent a message to women, “You are dispensable.”

Let’s face it, Republicans saw stopping the Paycheck Fairness Act as an easy vote to appease the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big business interests that have been stalling this fair pay bill for years. They are such cowards–hiding behind procedural votes because they don’t have the courage to vote no on the bill itself. They know a majority of Americans support pay equity for women.

Senator Reid has been a stalwart supporter. Despite a crowded calendar, he scheduled the bill for a vote and delivered 57 Democrats and one Independent, all of whom voted to bring the Act to the Senate floor. In any other democracy, 58 votes out of 100 would be a winning majority, but once again the Senate rules were abused by Republicans to stall equality.

The arcane rules of the Senate and their misuse must be brought to a halt.

Photo from Flickr user gj_theWhite under Creative Commons 2.0.

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post.


Eleanor Smeal is president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher of Ms. For over five decades, she has played a leading role in both national and state campaigns to win women’s rights legislation, including the Equal Rights Amendment.