This morning President Obama signed into law a bill that seeks to end the pay disparities between men and women. I love it that he says “This is not a women’s issue, but a family issue.” And to compare with the first bill passed by President Kibaki’s Parliament in 2002, was to raise the pay for the Members of Parliament. Sad indeed.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which states that the 180-day statute of limitations for pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck, inspired by Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found that the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit begins at the date the pay was agreed upon, not at the date of the most recent paycheck, as a lower court had ruled.
The bill (H.R. 2831 and S. 1843) was defeated in April 2008 by Republicans in the Senate who cited the possibility of frivolous lawsuits in their opposition of the bill and criticized Democrats for refusing to allow compromises.
The bill was reintroduced in the House in January 2009 (as H.R. 11 and S. 181), where it passed with 247 votes in support and 171 against. The Senate voted 72 to 23 to invokecloture on S. 181, on January 15, 2009. (The vote to invoke cloture ends debate on a bill, and usually leads to a final vote within a few days.)
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the Senate, 61-36, on January 22, 2009. The votes in favor included every Democratic senator (except Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was absent from the vote because of health issues) and all four female Republican senators. Every male Republican voted against it except Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, who voted for it.