On the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico's Third District is calling for Congressional action to help close the remaining wage gap between men and women.
"When the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Now, women in New Mexico make 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a discrepancy which affects not only women, but their families as well. While significant progress has been made since over the past 50 years, there is still huge room for improvement," Congressman Luján said. "The Paycheck Fairness Act, a piece of legislation that I am cosponsoring, works to close that gap by strengthening the Equal Pay Act and closing loopholes that have been in existence for nearly 50 years."
Currently, the wage gap between men and women means that annually, on average, a woman brings home $11,084 less than a man. The National Partnership for Women and Families calculated what that money could mean for a median family in America -- 89 more weeks of food, 3,000 more gallons of gas, or more than one year of rent. Additionally, Hispanic women are especially hard hit by the wage gap, earning only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.
Working toward equal pay for women has long been a top priority for Rep. Luján and Democrats in Congress. With the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, women regained the right to challenge unfair pay in court. However, the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act is still necessary to update the Equal Pay Act and close the wage gap. The House has twice successfully passed the Paycheck Fairness Act only to see it blocked by Republicans in the Senate. Now, the Paycheck Fairness Act has been reintroduced with the support of every Democratic member, but Republicans have voted twice during this Congress to keep it from coming to the House floor.
"Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act remains an essential way to update the Equal Pay Act, ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work, and that the families of New Mexico are not negatively impacted by the wage gap," Luján concluded.