Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a hearing today entitled, the "Paycheck Fairness Act: Responding to Financial Pressures on Women by Closing the Gender Wage Gap." The hearing highlighted the experience of pay discrimination by American women in the workforce and underscored the critical need for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are the Leader's opening remarks:
"Welcome back to the Capitol. I hope that you had an, enjoyable is not the word, but a productive Memorial Day weekend as we honor those who keep us the home of the brave and the land of the free. Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice so much for us. Every day is Veteran's Day for us here. And the days that we pay tribute to those who are in service now, and those who have given their lives, on Memorial Day, and then other days of the year, we take time to honor them.
"So now we're back and we want to build a future worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women uniform. And that means that there is opportunity for all Americans to participate equally in the prosperity of our country. I believe that this is a very important day because it points out the important role that women can, some are, more can, and will, play in the economic growth of American.
"Women and economic growth. They simply go together. There are those who say that there is no disparity in income between men and women in our country. This is a false claim, it's a myth, and we want to do what we can today to dispel it. I'm very pleased to join Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and Chairman George Miller, the Co-Chairs of the Steering and Policy Committee, both of them have spent their careers fighting for workers' rights. In Congresswoman DeLauro's case, unsurpassed in her advocacy for gender equality in the workplace.
"Today's guests are very special to us. Barbara Ehrenreich, as you know, has shown a bright light on inequity -- including gender inequity -- in America. And sharing their powerful stories with us today, very important testimony we will receive from AnnMarie Duchon and Terri Kelly who will be introduced by Chairman Miller in a moment. I'd like to thank the many advocates who have devoted their careers to the cause of equal pay for equal work who join us here today.
"The last Congress, we made equal pay a key priority of our economic recovery and growth and a marker for our progress as a nation. In passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act -- the first bill President Obama signed into law -- we restored the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court. Only three Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act. In the House, we also passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. This legislation reaffirms an American value: equal pay for equal work. It takes affirmative steps to ensure that women earn what men earn for doing the same job. And it ensures that men earn what women earn for doing the same job. Setting a pace that promotes growth. Though it had the support of a majority of the House and Senate, Republican Senators have blocked its progress. Hopefully they will not when it comes up next week, where they have another opportunity to support pay check fairness.
"Where will Senate Republicans stand? Where are the House Republicans? Why can't this bill come to the floor for a vote? It's 2012: no woman should be paid less than equal pay for equal work. With women still earning just 77 cents for every dollar men make, we know there is a long way to go. And in this time of great economic challenge, that difference in pay makes a big difference for families. This legislation is important to the economic growth of our country. I repeat: the success of women in the workplace, their being treated fairly, is important to the economic growth of our country.
"Today we come together to send a powerful message to women across the country: "your work is valued.' Democrats in Congress will continue to work on behalf of equality in the workplace -- because when we strengthen the economic security for America's women, we strengthen the economic security for America's families. And in doing so, we reignite the American dream. I don't think this -- our goal would be to make this issue have no partisanship about it at all. I think that women who are working out there, whatever their party, or no party, or not even interested in politics, all know that this unfairness must be addressed. Let's do it now."