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Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 - Motion to Proceed - Resumed

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT OF 2007--MOTION TO PROCEED--Resumed -- (Senate - April 23, 2008)

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I am surprised that my colleagues say this is all about publicity. How can it be about publicity when, in reality, women make less than men in their everyday jobs? Last week in Pittsburg I attended an equal pay forum and found young children carrying handmade signs about justice: Gussie, a young girl, said, ``I will work for justice;'' Sofia, another young girl, said, ``I will work for justice;'' Leo, who wanted to join in with these young ladies, said, ``I will work for change and for justice.'' The children planned to walk around and collect 23 cents on street corners, begging for an amount of change that represents the difference between what men and women get paid.

This young generation of Americans wants to know that they are going to grow up in a world where they are going to get equal pay for equal work.

Women, on average, make 77 cents per every dollar their male counterparts make and stand to lose $250,000 dollars in income over their lifetime. We are talking about real dollars. The pay gap follows women into retirement. A single woman in retirement, making less pay in her career, could receive $8,000 dollars less in retirement income annually than a man--this is an issue of justice.

I appreciate that the Senator from Massachusetts has led the charge on this. I want to remind my colleagues that we had a similar Supreme Court decision on identity theft, which passed by a 9-0 vote, that limited a victim's ability to recover when it is held that the statute of limitations begins at the time of the initial violation, rather than when the victim discovers the injury. It was the same issue. You did not know that your identity had been stolen, but the courts maintained a very narrow definition of how long you had to recover. What did we do? We acted. Congress extended the statute of limitations to two years after the individual knew their identity had been stolen or 5 years after the violation. That is what Congress did. We corrected that. That is what we need to do to give equal justice to women so they can have equal pay.

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Ms. CANTWELL. It is quite simple to correct this issue today. We are asking that more women be a part of the math and science and engineering workforce, be part of the information technology age. But if they cannot ask how much their male counterparts are making and find out later that they are only making 77 cents per every dollar their male counterparts make, that is not fair.

We could correct that by now by not only allowing people to come forward at the first instance of unequal pay--but every instance.

It is critical that we address this simple correction. This body has corrected other Supreme Court decisions on these same statute of limitations issues. This is the least we can do.

I see my colleague from New York has come to the floor. We ought to get this bill passed and get on to her legislation that is even more robust--to make sure that employers are treating women fairly and giving them information. This is basic. We should pass it and make sure we send this to the President's desk.

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