By Justin Sink - 06/05/12 12:26 PM EDT
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday said that GOP amendments to Senate legislation have been making her life miserable and charged Republicans with trying to get her to vote against her own mother.
Her comments came during a discussion of paycheck fairness legislation, which the White House has been pushing as Republicans argue Democrats are engaging in election year politics.
"For the last two years, [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] has been trying to figure out what amendments he can put on the floor to make my life miserable," McCaskill told MSNBC. "There are so many 'gotcha' votes — all they have done for the past two years is been obstructionist and try to figure out some way to put something on the floor that would get me to vote against my own mother."
The centrist Democratic senator sought to use the equal-pay measure to depict her Republican opponents as extreme. There are three Republicans vying for the right to face McCaskill this fall.
"All three of my opponents are pretty extreme; they want to come and join the Tea Party caucus. All three of my opponents have come out against this, saying this is not necessary, this is not a problem. Well, if this is not a problem, I don't think they've been paying attention," McCaskill said.
The senator added that she believed Republican objections to the legislation were "weird."
"It seems kind of weird to me. This is not, like, an exotic idea, this is common sense that we want to level the playing field," McCaskill said.
The senator went on to say that Republican rejection of equal-pay measures was part of the reason women had difficulty breaking through into top executive positions.
"It's very hard to break through when you have attitudes of elected officials where equal pay for equal work is something they can't bother with — that's a big problem. That sends the wrong message," McCaskill said.
On Monday, President Obama joined Senate Democrats in advocating for the legislation, signaling that he believed a move by Republicans to block the bill could become a campaign issue.
“Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they’re making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by for less money for childcare and tuition and rent; small businesses have fewer customers,” Obama said on a Monday conference call. “Everybody suffers.”
Republicans have criticized aspects of the legislation as unnecessarily restrictive to business, and accused Democrats of trying to re-litigate ground covered under the Lilly Ledbetter Act.