The House passed a bill aimed at closing the gender pay gap Wednesday, with all 242 Democrats in the chamber, along with seven Republicans, supporting the measure to tackle gender-based wage discrimination.
“This is a gamechanger,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who authored the bill and has introduced it every year since 1997.
Shoutout to our sister, Representative @rosadelauro--who has been introducing this bill since 1997--for her dedication and determination in the fight for women's equality. 👑 #PaycheckFairnessAct#WomensHistoryMonthhttps://t.co/qmCGVWv5ql
— House Democrats (@HouseDemocrats) March 27, 2019
According to DeLauro, the Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by holding employers accountable for discriminatory practices and it would end the practice of pay secrecy in the workplace. In addition, it would also bar retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries with others, ease the ability for an employee to individually or jointly challenge pay discrimination, and strengthen the available remedies for employees who have faced discrimination, ABC News reports.
“Today, we can make a difference for working women and their families. The biggest economic challenge of our time is that Americans are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on. This will be the first bill that the majority is passing to address that economic need for families,” DeLauro said during debate on the bill.
“Paycheck Fairness puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages,” she added. “It better protects employees from being fired for sharing their salary with co-workers. It establishes a grant program to provide salary negotiation training for girls and women. And, it ensures employers are not reliant on wage history when they hire an employee.”
Democrats renewed the push to close the gender pay gap, stressing that while there has been some advancement towards pay equality in recent years, the gap is still not completely closed, with women still only earning 80 cents to the dollar a man makes for the same work.
A 2018 study by the American Association of University Women, an advocacy group that promotes equity for women, found that women who work full time in the United States only make 80 percent of what men earn.
“After decades of failing to address persistent wage inequity, this is our opportunity to strengthen the Equal Pay Act,” House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) said, citing that very statistic.
And with Congress having the most diverse freshman class in history, Democrats also added language to the bill that focused on closing racial disparities, Politico reports.
Over the course of her working life, the average American woman loses $400,000 to the wage gap. Today, the House took the historic step of passing the #PaycheckFairness Act – a crucial step in the effort to end wage discrimination across America! #EqualPaypic.twitter.com/03MsbOckRi
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 27, 2019
“It’s historic,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said of the bill. “And that it should happen at a time when we have over 100 women serving in the House of Representatives — that it should happen in the same Congress that we will also observe the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Amendment to have women have the right to vote: it’s all very historic. It’s all about progress.”
The passage of the bill is an achievement for Democrats, as they have dedicated their agenda to women and families, which could significantly help them to retain their majority in the 2020 presidential election.
But now the bill will move on to the Senate, though it is unlikely to advance due to the Republican majority. Democrats, however, say they will attempt to pressure Senate Republicans to take up the bill.