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Public Statements

Paycheck Fairness Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, today women make up nearly half of the American workforce. More women graduate from college today than do men, more women were sworn in to the 113th Congress than any Congress before that, and there are more women in the Democratic caucus than ever before--and that is an understatement. Millions of women in the United States are the primary wage earners for their families, and women are now free to fight for this county on the front lines of battle. Yet, for millions of American women, no amount of valor, talent, or dedication will bring pay equality with their male peers. Women still bring home 77 cents for every $1 their male colleagues earn for doing exactly the same work.

I have five children. My oldest child is a girl, my daughter Lana. I mean, it is hard to comprehend that she is worth less than one of my boys who does the same work. It is unfair. And that is true regardless of whether a woman has a college degree, regardless of what job she holds, and regardless of how many hours she spends at the office or factory each week. They get paid 77 cents on average for every $1 a man makes.

Four years ago President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I have gotten to know this dynamic, courageous woman, Lilly Ledbetter. She has campaigned around the country for people she likes and believe in her. I am so impressed with her and what she has been able to accomplish. This one woman has accomplished a great deal.

The Lilly Ledbetter legislation--the first bill President Obama signed as President of the United States--was the single greatest legislative step to ensure women have every chance to be full, equal participants in the workplace since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed. But while this landmark legislation built on the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and narrowed the pay gap, it has not closed the pay gap, as I have just indicated. So the senior Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski, introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act last Congress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a logical extension of protections under the Equal Pay Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It would help close the wage disparity by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay and creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws already in place. It would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination and bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information. And it would help secure adequate compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. It is simply not fair that any woman working the same hours in the same job should make less money than her male coworker.

Unfortunately, this commonsense legislation was blocked by a Republican filibuster last Congress. But Senator Mikulski, who has done so much to advance the pay equity issue, reintroduced the measure last week, for which I am grateful.

As we mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, I applaud Senator Mikulski and the women of the Democratic caucus for their dedication to American women and families--and to the principle of equality.

Would the Chair announce the business of the day.

Oh, I am sorry, I did not see the Republican leader here, so my apology, Mr. President.


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