Democrats in the Senate failed Wednesday to muster a 60-vote majority for S. 1843, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
If the bill had passed, it would have reversed the effects of a May 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that restricted workers’ ability to file suits over allegations of pay discrimination resulting from discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin.
Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act required Lily Ledbetter, a rubber plant supervisor, to file a pay discrimination suit within 180 days after the discrimination was said to have occurred.
In July 2007, the House voted 225-199 to pass a bill easing the pay discrimination suit restrictions.
Ledbetter bill supporters in the Senate needed a 60-vote majority to block the threat of a filibuster, or potentially never-ending period of debate, and get the bill to the floor.
Only 6 Republican senators voted for sending the bill to the floor; and only 1 Democrat voted against sending the bill to the floor.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ended up voting against sending the bill to the floor so that he would have standing to ask for a revote.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., says the Ledbetter ruling leaves a “gaping loophole” in civil rights laws.