After the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in Congress and was signed into law, President Obama and Senate Democrats were self-congratulatory.
“We passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- the first bill I signed -- so that equal pay for equal work is a reality all across this country," Obama said, praising himself and his colleagues. "We are very proud of legislation we have passed … to guarantee gender pay equity with the Lilly Ledbetter law," Democratic senator Ben Cardin said, offering himself and Democrats more praise. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, also a Democrat, likewise offered congratulations to herself: "I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far… the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which ensures that all Americans are paid the same regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity."
Nevertheless, with an election coming in November and with Republicans supposedly waging a war on women, the pay equity Lilly Ledbetter bill does not appear to have been enough--even for these very same Democrats.
The next battle on Capitol Hill for Democrats will again be to use this women's issue for political gain.
The first stop will be to bring another pay equity bill to the Senate floor. As Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said yesterday on Capitol Hill, "Madam President, it is almost universally acknowledged that Republican obstructionism has reached new heights in the Senate… We could be considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, ensuring American women receive equal pay for equal work."
One wonders, of course, if the Lilly Ledbetter bill was so great, why would they need to do this drill all over again?
It's a way to raise support and funds, a senior Senate Republican aide explains. And it's cynical and destructive.
"Dems in Washington are treating women voters shamefully," the aide tells me. "Not only are they raising campaign cash off a fight they claimed they won more than three years ago, they’re wasting precious time in the process that could be spent actually doing something to lower the debt and boost the economy."
Senate Democrats want to vote on the legislation sometime after Memorial Day.