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Senate GOPers Set to Kill Equal-Pay Bill

If it seemed quiet in the Senate today, that’s because the chamber was closed, the lights turned off.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had postponed commencement until 5 p.m. to give Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) time to rush back from the campaign trail to vote this evening on a bill allowing victims of pay discrimination more freedom to sue their employers.

The bill stems from the Supreme Court case surrounding Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama-based supervisor of the Goodyear Rubber & Tire Co., who sued the company at the end of her career after learning that male supervisors earned significantly more than she did to perform the same duties. The Supreme Court shot her down 5 to 4, arguing that her statutory 180-day window to sue had long expired.

The Democratic bill would reset the six-month clock with every new paycheck.

Still, Reid’s delay is a symbolic gesture. Senate Republicans are expected to rally the support to sustain a bill-killing filibuster. And if not, the White House yesterday threatened a veto (pdf), charging that the bill would open the floodgates of litigation.

The change would serve to impede justice and undermine the important goal of having allegations of discrimination expeditiously resolved. Furthermore, the effective elimination of any statute of limitations in this area would be contrary to the centuries-old notion of a limitations period for all lawsuits.

Of note: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the likely GOP presidential nominee, was not returning from the trail for the vote.

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