Feminists in the House Are Fighting on for #PaycheckFairness

Written by Roxy Szal

It’s been 10 years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act overturning a Supreme Court decision that limited the amount of time in which employees could file a lawsuit related to pay discrimination. It’s been 20 since legislation to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, increase transparency about wages in workplaces across the country and expand workers’ rights pertaining to to pay discrimination was first introduced in Congress.

Only one month after a record number of women were sworn in to serve in the 116th Congress, feminist lawmakers in the House re-introduced the FPA.

Feminist lawmakers—including newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and longtime feminist champions Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Rosa DeLauro—announced their re-introduction of the legislation at a press conference Wednesday.

“We implicitly recognize as women that the pay gap and the wage gap is an injustice that persists through secrecy, and it’s an injustice that persists to the present day,” Ocasio-Cortez declared from the House podium. “It is time that we pay people what they are worth, and not how little they are desperate enough to accept.”

The bill will likely pass in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but it faces considerable opposition in the Senate, where lawmakers from the Republican majority have called it unnecessary and argued that any additional regulations around pay discrimination would discourage companies from hiring women.

Opponents of expanded efforts to close the wage gap often argue that the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act rendered pay discrimination and gender discrimination illegal, making new legislation moot. Data shows, however, that women in the U.S. still face a substantial gender wage gap: Today, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than men’s, according to a report released by the Senate Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff in 2017. The gaps only increase when broken down by race, with black and Latina women earning significantly less than their white counterparts.

Pelosi remains determined to finally push the PFA over the finish line, however, and hopes to have the bill on the president’s desk and signed into law by Equal Pay Day on April 2, which marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

Pelosi’s reason for persisting? A knowledge that, as she declared Wednesday: “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

This post originally appeared on Ms. Magazine.

Photo Credit: Senate Democrats/Flickr

58 comments

Sophie A
Sarah A2 months ago

Thank you

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Anna R
Anna R2 months ago

Thank you for posting

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

A subject that needs to be on-going until women succeed.

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Frances G
Carla G2 months ago

thank you

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Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman2 months ago

I wonder how Kay B. KNOWS that the men and women receive equal pay for equal work at every place she has worked.

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Anna R
Anna R2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Elaine W
Elaine W2 months ago

Noted and hoping again for fairness.

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Karen H
Karen H2 months ago

I worked at a company for quite a few years and left because there was no advancement for women. When I left, TWO men were hired to replace me. Doing the same work for the same number of hours. Each one was making more when they started than I was making when I left. So don't give me any b.s. about men working longer hours or doing more.

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