Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, as we mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX--the historic law establishing equal access to education for women, I would like to take a moment to recognize the importance of equal pay for equal work, another federal policy that is essential to providing equal opportunity for women in our country. The contemporary push for women's rights began with the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Although this statute was a great advancement for women in society, much work remains to strengthen the reality of equal pay for women. For example, in 1963, women earned sixty cents for every dollar a man made. Today, according to the latest Census statistics, women only earn seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man makes--progress but still an egregiously-unfair and unequal disparity. Equal pay is the foundation for economic well-being and security. Policymakers must take action to ensure that equity in pay is a national priority.
In 2009, the 111th Congress took strides to further close the gender discrimination gap in the professional work environment by passing The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This law initiated great improvements for women in the workforce, such as allowing a time frame extension to file lawsuits against employers for wage discrepancies. However, additional protections are needed, which is why Democratic lawmakers are advancing the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens the equality provisions within the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and eliminates the loopholes not seen in the past. For example, it increases penalties on employers who violate federal law and allows women to pursue legal matters if they are treated unjustly. The legislation also ensures equality in the tax code so that everyone--male and female, high-income earners and those living in poverty--pays their respective tax rate. Fairness should be applicable to all, in wages and in taxes. The Paycheck Fairness Act provides effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for equal work, and Congress should pass the bill as soon as possible.
Equality in pay is an issue of civil rights. Women represent more than half of the workforce, and they deserve the full-amount of earnings for their work. Loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime due to unequal pay undermines the economic security of women and our nation. I will continue to steadfastly support and advance legislation that promotes gender equality and civil fairness.