GOP blocks women's bill, Dems see campaign fodder

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic bill on Monday aimed at pressuring employers to pay women the same as men, a vote Democrats knew they would lose but scheduled in hopes of attracting support from female voters in November's elections.

GOP senators blockaded the legislation in April and with the support of business groups like the Chamber of Commerce opposed it again Monday. They say that by making it easier for workers to successfully win legal damages in court, the bill would make it harder for employers to defend themselves against pay disparities that are justified — such as when a worker accepts lower pay in exchange for more flexible hours.

Monday's vote was 52-40 to end GOP stalling tactics designed to sink the bill — eight short of the 60 votes needed for passage. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who normally backs Democrats, voted with Republicans and was the only lawmaker to break party ranks.

Democrats had promised to revisit the issue in the heat of this fall's campaigns.

Census bureau figures show that on average, women made 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Experts and politicians debate how much that reflects actual gender discrimination.

Figures show that men tend to out-earn women in comparable jobs and with equal amounts of education. But on average, women tend to accept shorter hours than men and are likelier to take lower-paying jobs.

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