Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s “shameful” that an equal pay bill fell a half-dozen votes short in the chamber on Wednesday. Harkin, a Democrat, says the measure — which aimed to close the so-called wage gap — failed to win a single Republican vote. “I am really disappointed that the Senate Republicans would not even allow us to bring the bill to the floor to debate it,” Harkin says. “If they have amendments, they could have offered amendments, but the vote yesterday was whether or not we’d even debate it and vote on it.”
Republican opponents said they feared passage would bring more civil lawsuits and added, the bill is redundant as it’s already illegal to discriminate based on gender. Harkin disagrees. “It’s just shameful, especially an issue that a lot of people think is just a women’s issue, equal pay for equal work, well, it is that but it’s a family issue,” Harkin says. “So many women are chief breadwinners in their families. A lot of single mothers out there, taking care of children.”
When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women were making 60-cents to every dollar made by a man. Studies show women today make 77-cents to every man’s dollar, so there’s been progress, Harkin says, just not enough. Harkin says, “For Republicans to just say ‘No, we’re not even going to discuss it, we’re not even going to vote on it,’ to me it’s just the height of irresponsibility.” This was the third Senate failure of an equal pay bill in recent years.
Harkin says the sponsors may try to introduce the measure again this summer. He calls it “amazing” the subject is still needing to be discussed and remedied.