As if to underscore the political sensitivity of the debate, McConnell held his usual Tuesday session with reporters accompanied only by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who was pushing a narrower version of the legislation. Typically, McConnell faces the cameras joined by the top members of the Senate GOP leadership, who are all men.
At almost the same time, a parade of Democratic female senators trooped to the Senate floor to defend the bill.
Mikulski's bill would narrow the factors businesses can cite for paying women less than men in the same jobs, and bar employers from retaliating against workers who share salary information. It also would make it easier to bring class-action lawsuits against companies and let victors in such lawsuits win punitive and compensatory damages.
Paycheck discrimination based on gender has been illegal since the 1960s. The Ledbetter law extended the time people have to file lawsuits claiming violations of that law.
Women averaged 77 percent of men's earnings in 2012, according to Census Bureau figures. That is better than the 61 percent differential of 1960, but little changed since 2001.
While few deny workplace discrimination exists, politicians and analysts debate its impact on women's earnings.
Data shows that men tend to out-earn women at every level of education and in comparable jobs.
Yet women generally work shorter hours and are likelier to take lower-paying jobs. Sixty-two percent of the 3.3 million workers earning at or below the minimum wage last year were women, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even if the Democratic bill emerges from the Senate, it appears to have little chance in the GOP-run House.
- Doris Kearns Goodwin: 'Tell and retell...
- What 'shared parenting' is and how it can...
- Five for Families: Football films worth...
- Creators of Love Taza blog encourage...
- Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Parenting around the...
- RootsTech 2016 a 25,000-member 'studio audience'
- The Clean Cut: Chicago Blackhawks surprise...
- Here's an unexpected way to get healthier...
- What 'shared parenting' is and how it... 2
- Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Parenting... 1
- Doris Kearns Goodwin: 'Tell and retell... 1
- Here's an unexpected way to get... 0
- The Clean Cut: Teen cancer survivor... 0
- UTubers: Redhead Express covers 'I Knew... 0
- What it's like for a dad to raise a... 0
- RootsTech 2016 a 25,000-member 'studio... 0