Democrats criticize Republicans for voting against pay-fairness bill

President Obama said he would continue to work for equal pay after the bill failed to get the 60 votes it needed to advance. 

"I am deeply disappointed that a minority of senators have prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from finally being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote," he said in a statement. 

Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) lobbied against the bill, arguing that the measure would kill jobs as the economy recovers from the recession.

Supporters contended that the legislation would have the opposite effect. 

"This was a tough vote for many due to the sound-bite appeal of the bill’s title, but in the end they did the right thing and voted for jobs," said Keith Smith, director of employment and labor policy for NAM, after the vote. 

Smith said the bill would've created issues by "inviting uncertainty to almost every pay decision employers make." 

"Manufacturers are committed to fair pay in the workplace, but it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which this bill would not have led to lower wages and fewer jobs."

The measure passed the House in January 2009 along with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill Obama signed into law as part of his pro-labor agenda. 

Three Republican women who voted for the Lilly Ledbetter bill — Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snow and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas — voted against the measure.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was the lone member of his party to vote against the legislation.

The legislation would have raised the cap on damages in pay-discrimination cases and ensured employers didn't punish workers for sharing salary information as a way to determine differences. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that workers can't sue previous employers for the issue of wage discrimination that had happened years earlier. 

The National Women's Law Center has reported that the pay gap between men and women means more than $10,000 in lost wages each year on average.