As we mark Equal Pay Day on April 9, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) said that more needs to be done to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men -- including enactment of the critical Paycheck Fairness Act. Equal Pay Day symbolizes when, more than three months into the year, women's wages finally catch up to what men were paid in the previous year.
"Nationwide, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act will mark its 50th anniversary in June," said Congressman Cohen. "Equal pay is not simply a woman's issue -- it's a family issue. Families increasingly rely on women's wages to make ends meet. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families -- groceries, rent, child care, doctors' visits."
Achieving equal pay for women has been one of the top priorities of Democrats. In January 2009, the Democratic-led 111th Congress sent to the President's desk the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- and it became the first bill signed into law by President Obama. This Act, a great victory for women, restores the right of women to challenge unfair pay in court -- but virtually all House Republicans opposed this critical measure for women.
"Although the Lilly Ledbetter Act has been enacted, we need to do more," said Congressman Cohen. "The Paycheck Fairness Act is equally important. The Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens and closes loopholes in the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act, including providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work. But once again, Republicans have continued to stand in the way of progress for women and their families."
Democrats have worked to enact the Paycheck Fairness Act for years. In 2008 and again in 2009, the Democratic-led House succeeded in passing the bill, but in both Congresses, Senate Republicans blocked the measure. Similarly, in 2012, Republicans in both the House and Senate voted to block the bill. In 2013, it's time for Republicans to finally stand up for America's women and help pass the critical Paycheck Fairness Act.
"On Equal Pay Day 2013, let us all vow that, in order to strengthen the American family and ensure fairness in the workplace, we will work together until we have achieved an America where women are truly paid equal pay for equal work," said Congressman Cohen.