UPDATE: Senate Defeats Paycheck Fairness Act

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UPDATE (12:39pm): In a 52 to 47 vote, the Senate defeated the Paycheck Fairness Act, with politicians voting primarily along party lines. Senate Republicans voted against the measure, while Democrats spoke to the need of the legislation in the hour before the vote. 

Democratic aids note

President Obama’s reelection campaign and Senate Democrats intend to use the bill’s failure as part of an ongoing push to paint congressional Republicans as hostile to women’s interests.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has yet to make a statement on the bill, but according to his campaign, he favors equal pay in the workplace.

Today, women’s rights return to center stage in Washington D.C., with the Senate set to vote on a piece of legislation aiming to prevent wage discrimination on the basis of gender.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that women earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man, despite the prohibitions against wage discrimination outlined in the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963.

Expanding on John F. Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act would allow women to pursue punitive damages for unequal pay claims, force businesses to justify wage disparities between men and women, and prohibit businesses from withholding information regarding salary.

Democrats have been campaigning heavily for the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, despite challenges from the Republican Party.

President Obama has voiced his opinion loud and clear, using social media outlets and press releases to show his support for the bill.

On a conference call with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D), and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D) of Maryland, he stressed:

“If Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, women are going to have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work. If they don’t, if Congress doesn’t act, then women are still going to have difficulty enforcing and pressing for this basic principle.”

One of the four ecards designed by the Obama team in order to spread support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, posted on the White House official blog.

The Obama team has also launched a social media campaign, inviting supporters of the Paycheck Fairness Act to share ecards via email or social media. He has incorporated Twitter into his social media campaign, asking supporters to use the hashtag #EqualPay to share their ecards.

The Democratic Party, however, is unlikely to get the 60 votes it needs to block a Senate filibuster.

As reported by CNN, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose the bill. In a letter written to Senate leaders, the opposition argued:

“The Paycheck Fairness Act would impose unprecedented government control over how employees are paid at even the nation’s smallest employers,” the letter said. “This flawed legislation would outlaw many legitimate practices that employers currently use to set employee rates, even where there is no evidence of intentional discrimination.”

While Republicans remain quiet on the issue, Democrats have taken advantage of this legislation to further fuel the narrative of what they call the GOP war on women. Whether or not the law passes, the outright rejection from the Republican Party will no doubt be used as a political tool to garner support of women in the upcoming election.

We’ll be updating you as the vote comes in, so stay tuned to IVN for full results.