Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the House Passage of the Pay Equity Bill
U.S. Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1338):
"Throughout my life, I have seen first-hand how women struggle with balancing work and family and issues of fairness. I saw my grandmother, who helped raise me, work her way up from a secretary at a bank to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state. But I also saw how she ultimately hit a glass ceiling - how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her. And throughout my time in public service, I have heard from women who are struggling to make ends meet and still seeing their male colleagues make more than they do. Those stories reflect the fact that women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men make - black women and Latinas make even less. That doesn't just hurt women, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work even harder just to get by. In 2008, a time when more and more women are supporting their families, we should all hope that the pay gap would be a thing of the past. But it's not. And that's why today's vote in the House is so important.
"I want to give special thanks to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro for leading the fight on this bill and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman George Miller for their commitment to righting this wrong. They have all made this day possible.
"Now the Senate must take up this challenge. I've cosponsored both Senator Clinton's version of this legislation, S. 776, and Senator Mikulski's bill overturning the Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision. The Court was wrong to make it more difficult for women to challenge pay discrimination at work.
"The problem in these kinds of cases isn't that women are somehow unqualified or unprepared for higher-paying positions. The problem is that some employers aren't paying women fairly. The problem is that too many women aren't able to challenge employers who are underpaying them because the system doesn't provide the needed protections. And the solution is to change the law, finally close that gap and pay women what they've earned. This isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families. It's a question of who we are as a country - of whether we're going to live up to our values as a nation. That's why this legislation is so important and why its passage today is an important step in the right direction."