The new Democratic-led U.S. Senate flexed its expanded muscle on Thursday by overwhelmingly passing a bill to reverse a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it tougher to sue for pay discrimination.
Approved 61-36, the measure is similar to one that Senate Republicans blocked last year, complaining it would lead to an explosion of lawsuits and be a bonanza for trial lawyers.
The legislation is a priority of organized labor, a longtime friend of Democrats, which argues it would give victims of discrimination fair hearings and just compensation.
Having increased their control of Congress and taken the White House in the November election, Democrats now expect to pass many of the bills previously stalled by Republicans and send them to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
"Taking up this bill as one of the first acts of this new Congress is a sign of what's to come," said Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a chief sponsor of the measure.