Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and seeks to remedy the discrepancies in the wages of men and women in America.
In 2009, the first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Creating equal pay for women was one of the top priorities of Congress in 2009 and it was my honor to support this bill. The Lilly Ledbetter act pioneered the first steps at tackling the issue of sex-based discrimination, but our duty to American women in the workforce is not complete. Now more than ever, with women increasingly taking on the role as the breadwinner in many American households, this issue no longer affects just women; it affects entire families. For almost 50 years, we have been combating this issue. In El Paso women make up 45 percent of the labor force, with similar numbers around the country, but women earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. If this gap in earnings is not reduced, everyday expenses, the ability to support their families and retirement funds will be negatively affected.
Continuing his commitment to securing equal pay for women, President Obama is pressing for us to turn this basic right, equal pay for equal effort, into a reality with the Paycheck Fairness Act. With the creation of the National Equal Pay Task Force that is cracking down on any violations of equal pay laws, the President is pressing forward with his efforts. Like President Obama, we must continue to fight for equal payment opportunities for our nation's women and in turn their families. Senate Republicans are blocking passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act which advocates for the fair treatment of almost half of our labor force. I support the Paycheck Fairness Act and its intent to increase penalties against those who participate in gender-based discrimination, and I urge Senate Republicans to stop their resistance on this issue.