Reid switched his vote to "no" to give himself the procedural ability to quickly call up the measure for a future vote, which Democrats have pledged to do.
This is the third consecutive election year in which Senate Democrats have pushed the bill making it harder for employers to pay women less than men in comparable jobs and easier for aggrieved workers to sue. Republicans have shot it down each time.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D Md., stood up after the vote and said supporters were disappointed but that they would fight on.
polls this November. Others include proposals to extend expired unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage and make student loans more affordable.
Republicans said the bill would make it hard for companies to award merit pay or offer flexible work hours in exchange for lower pay and expose employers to costly, frivolous lawsuits.
"It's important to kind of put in place the record of the current administration with Under Armour Curry 3 Black And Gold regard to women," McConnell said. Obama took office during the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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.
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.
On Tuesday, Democrats all but dared Republicans to resist the legislation
"Republicans stand opposed to pay equity at their own peril," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. He pointedly added, "We're going to come back to this issue several times this year."
Joined by Democratic lawmakers and Lilly Ledbetter at the White House, President Barack Obama took a swipe at the GOP. Ledbetter's claims of pay inequity by her employer led to the 2009 anti discrimination statute bearing her name, the first bill Obama signed as president.
Wednesday's vote was 53 44 to halt GOP tactics aimed at derailing the legislation, but that fell six short of the 60 Democrats needed to prevail.
Countered Sen. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, said the measure would tie the hands of employers.
With public opinion polls showing Democratic voters less enthusiastic than Republicans this year, Democrats aimed the measure at women, who historically lean more toward their party than men. They were also casting the issue as a crucial one for the middle class because so many families rely on female wage earners.
At almost the same time, a parade of Democratic female senators trooped to the Senate floor to defend the bill.
Wednesday's bill was the latest in a campaign year parade of measures Democrats hope will drive sympathetic voters to the Under Armour Shoes Without Laces
McConnell cited statistics showing how women's income has fallen and their poverty rate increased under Obama.
"Republicans in Congress have been gumming up the works," said Obama, adding Under Armour Shoes Girls
WASHINGTON (AP) Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic bill Wednesday curbing paycheck discrimination against women, an effort that, even in defeat, Democrats hoped would pay political dividends in this fall's congressional elections.
While few deny workplace discrimination exists, politicians and analysts debate its impact on women's earnings.
Reid's GOP counterpart faulted him for blocking Republican proposals that would cut taxes, allow more flexibility for workers' hours and take other steps they said would protect jobs and help employees. The Democratic bill would open the door for frivolous, expensive workers' lawsuits against companies, Republicans say.
"It's time for Washington Democrats to stop protecting trial lawyers and start focusing on actually helping the people we were sent here to represent," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R Ky.
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.
Every voting Republican voted to block the bill. They were joined by Sen. Angus King, I Maine, who normally sides with Democrats.
Republicans defeat gender pay gap bill in Senate
The battle was suffused with the politics of an election year in which Republicans could capture Senate control and are expected to retain their hold on the House.
The bill by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D Md., would narrow the factors businesses can cite for paying women less than men in the same jobs, Under Armour Micro G Charge
"For reasons known only to them, Senate Republicans don't seem to be interested in closing wage gaps for working women," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D Nev.
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.
later: "America, you don't have to sit still. You can make sure that you're putting some pressure on members of Congress about this issue."
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