Friday, August 01, 2008

Those Republicans, working to protect America from those darn lawyers*

*well, except for the lawyers who are working for the Republicans as they try to undermine the Constitution...

On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill passed on a nearly-party line vote of 247 - 178. Every Democrat present supported the bill, as did 14 Republicans.

It should be noted that all four Democratic members of AZ's delegation - Gabrielle Giffords, Harry Mitchell, Raul Grijalva, and Ed Pastor - were present and voted in favor of he bill, and all four Republican members of AZ's delegation - Rick Renzi, John Shadegg, Trent Franks, and Jeff Flake - were present and voted in opposition to the bill.

As predicted last week, the Republicans, led by Buck McKeon (R - CA), trotted out the straw man of "oil drilling" and the boogeyman of "trial lawyers" as their rationalizations for opposing the bill.

"Trial lawyers" was the big club during the floor debate, though when the bill went through the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, the Reps proposed seven amendments related to energy (most were to open protected federal lands to oil drilling), however, none of those were made in order by the Committee (that darn 'relevancy' requirement! :) ).

On the floor, however, they kept stressing the point that while of course they opposed pay discrimination against women in the workforce, they had to oppose this bill because it "lines the pockets of the trial lawyers".

Funny, but while they objected to the enforcement provisions in the bill (i.e. - lawsuits), they couldn't be bothered to propose an alternative enforcement scheme; they just wanted to kill the bill (that darn 'protect big business at all costs' plank of the Republican Party platform! :) ).

Their anti-trial lawyer screeds might have had more credibility if they had proposed added gender-based pay discrimination to the list of predicate acts under Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 96 of the U.S. Code.

For those of you who aren't Michael Bryan of Blog for Arizona, that section of federal law contains the provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Just ignore the sound of popping blood vessels coming from the corporate types and their myriad lobbyists and water carriers on Capitol Hill (that darn 'forfeiture of assets' provision :)) ).

OK, OK, so I know that would never happen, even though it would certainly be appropriate in some of the more egregious cases. However, the point is a simple one, and it is a valid one.

The Republicans, who proclaimed very piously their support for equal pay for equal work and for laws guaranteeing such, gave lie to their protestations by working to ensure that current equal pay laws border on unenforceable.

It seems that the "law and order" Republicans only favor enforcing the laws of the land only against poor people and immigrants, not against corporate bigwigs.

Anyway, a press release on this subject from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can be found here; a release from Republican leader John Boehner is here. President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill, though anything can happen during an election year.

The best news for an Arizona Republican, related to this bill, is that Jeff Flake finally had one of his "anti-earmark" amendments pass (by voice vote, of all things).

The addition of that provision didn't stop him from voting against the underlying bill though.

Anyway, have a good night...

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