The Democratic-led Senate voted Wednesday to begin debate on legislation aimed at bridging the pay gap between men and women, although the bill remains unlikely to pass the chamber.
The vote was 73 in favor, 25 against, easily crossing the 60 votes needed to defeat an initial filibuster and move forward.
Republicans broadly oppose the bill, and can filibuster a second 60-vote motion required to cut off debate and move to a final vote. It is plausible that they agreed to debate the measure in order to eat up Senate time that Democrats had wanted to use for a swath of pre-election show votes designed to attack the GOP on the minimum wage, student loans and other issues.
In other words, Senate Republicans countered pre-election theater with some pre-election theater of their own. The vote comes less than two months before the Nov. 4 midterms, when control of the Senate is up for grabs.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), would build on protections for women in the workplace by outlawing employer retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries. It would also enhance data collection of worker pay information from employers.
Democrats have a 28-point advantage over Republicans among registered voters asked which of the two parties is “looking out for the interests of women,” according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted this month.