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Conservatives refuse to debate equal pay for equal work.

equal pay scalesConservatives in the U.S. Senate blocked progress yesterday, quite literally.

Progressive leadership introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which forbids salary secrecy. About half of employees report that it is forbidden or strongly discouraged for them to talk about their salaries with co-workers, a strong contributor to gender discrimination in pay.

Senate Republicans banded together and unanimously voted against allowing a debate on the bill.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said:

“Today’s vote is to begin debate on the bill. Are they so repulsed by equal pay for hard-working women, they’ll obstruct equal pay for equal work? I’m at a loss as to why anyone would decline to debate this important issue.”

It’s a fair question. Why don’t conservatives want to discuss equal pay for equal work? It might partly have to do with the fact that many conservatives don’t believe gender discrimination in pay exists.

But many studies show otherwise, and progressive leaders remain dedicated to eliminating gender pay discrimination. President Obama signed two executive orders this week addressing the issue, and Minnesota’s progressive leadership is very close to passing the Women’s Economic Security Act.

Senator Al Franken has also remained dedicated to equal pay for equal work throughout his first term, and the U.S. Senate has pledged to continue working for equal pay despite conservatives’ roadblocks.

Sen. Patty Murray, the chamber’s highest-ranking female member, said:

“This isn’t over. Equal pay for equal work is going to remain center stage in this year’s agenda and we are not going to let the Republicans who blocked this bill off the hook. That could absolutely mean another vote later in the year.”

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