This week, Senate Republicans voted unanimously against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have provided protections for women suing employers over gender-based pay discrimination. Before the vote, Senate Democratic leaders expected Republicans to vote down the bill, so the results from the Senate floor left few surprised. However, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused—and continues to refuse—to state whether he supported or opposed the bill.
After the vote, Democratic members of Congress sharply criticized their Republican colleagues for their vote against equal pay. But Lilly Ledbetter—whose story inspired the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—targeted Romney specifically for his silence. According to TPM:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the bill’s sponsor Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) invited Lilly Ledbetter, the face of the 2009 law, to the Capitol to make the case for the new legislation.
‘I’m telling you folks, this is a national epidemic in this country,’ Ledbetter said of unequal pay. Flanked by Reid and Mikulski, she criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for refraining from taking a stance on the bill. ‘He’s scaring me to death,’ she said. ‘We cannot let [Republicans] take away the few privileges we’re earned.’
‘Women are mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore,’ said Mikulski.
The Huffington Post noted that Romney and his campaign received plenty of opportunities—and time—to weigh in on the bill:
[Representative Jan] Schakowsky called it ‘perplexing’ that Romney won’t weigh in. She and other House Democrats cited numerous instances when Romney and his campaign have dodged questions on equal pay measures for women: an April 11 conference call with reporters, an interview with Diane Sawyer, five requests for comment for a story in the Washington Times.
‘It is sensible, commonsense legislation that helps right an awful wrong,’ Schakowsky said. ‘That’s why it’s so perplexing why Mitt Romney has been hiding under his desk on this issue, refusing to take a stand.’
Now that Romney is on well on his way to becoming the Republican Party’s standard bearer, will he continue to remain silent as the Republican Party continues to defend wage discrimination against women?
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