Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic bill calling for equal pay in the workplace. As expected, the bill failed along party lines, 52-47, short of the required 60-vote threshold. But for majority Democrats, passage wasn't the point. The debate itself was aimed at putting Republicans on the defensive on another women's issue, this one overtly economic after a government report showing slower-than-expected job growth. "It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families," President Obama said in a statement after the vote.
Unlike past taunts over access to contraception and abortion, Republicans this time didn't take the bait. In Fort Worth, Texas, Mitt Romney focused instead on unemployment among Hispanics. "Of course Gov. Romney supports pay equity for women," says a Romney spokeswoman. "In order to have pay equity, women need to have jobs, and they have been getting crushed in this anemic Obama economy." Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell argued that the bill would just increase lawsuits against employers. "We got a lot of problems. Not enough lawsuits is not one of them." (Read more equal pay stories.)