By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – As a slap in the face to women on Equal Pay Day today, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act for women – for the third time. The measure failed due to lack of a single Republican vote. The bill had aimed to provide more effective remedies for women who are paid less than men for the same work.
California's Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, support the bill. On the House side, San Diego Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis is pushing for passage of a similar measure, H.R. 377. San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters is a cosponsor of the bill, which local Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas also supports.
East County Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has previously voted no on a similar paycheck fairness measure for women, along with San Diego Republican Darrell Issa.
“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “Equal pay is not just a women’s issue – it’s also a family issue. Families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet. Equal Pay Day should be a reminder to everyone that in order to strengthen the middle class we need to ensure fairness in America.”
Along with cosponsoring the bill, Davis signed a petition to demand a vote on H. R. 377 in the House, where the Republican leadership has thus far blocked the measure from being brought up for a vote.
Republican leaders have claimed the measure isn’t necessary because wage discrimination is already illegal. But without teeth in enforcement laws, discrimination appears likely to continue.
Legislation signed by President Kennedy a half century ago required that women and men be paid equally for performing the same work. But 50 years later, women are still earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
According to one analysis by the Department of Labor’s Chief Economist, a typical 25-year-old woman working full time would have already earned $5,000 less over the course of her working career than a typical 25-year old man. If that earnings gap is not corrected, by age 65, she will have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars over her working lifetime. Women earn less than men in every state and region of the country, and for women of color the gap is even larger.
African-American women earn even less at 67 cents compared to men. The wage gap grows even larger for Latina women who earn just 60 cents on the dollar to men.
For Equal Pay Day, the President took an historic step toward closing the pay gap by signing two executive orders to make it easier for women to determine whether they are being underpaid compared to their male counterparts.