Reid: Senate Republicans Think Women Should Be Paid Less than Men

‘Senate Republicans simply cannot accept that simple notion that [women] should be paid the same’

Reid Remarks On The Need To Pass The Paycheck Fairness Act (Reid.Senate.Gov)

Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today on the need to close the gender pay gap and pass  the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

All you need to do is pick up any newspaper or turn on any television in America to know that we have many miles to travel before women in America are treated fairly. Unfortunately, there are some in our nation who don’t see a problem.  But when women continue to make less than men for performing the same work, it is clear we still have a problem. I see it. Senate Democrats see it. Democrats in the United States Senate stand for women’s equality because when women are empowered, we are all empowered.

Today, the Senate will vote on one important aspect of the unfair treatment of American women. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Paycheck Fairness Act addresses the issue of gender-based pay discrimination. In America today, more than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, working women still take home 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing exactly the same work. This isn’t just a women’s issue; it’s a family issue; it’s an economic issue.

For most Americans, the answer is simple: a woman who performs the same work as a man should be paid the same as a man. Women and men support equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, because it is fair. Except for Republicans in the United States Senate. Senate Republicans simply cannot accept that notion. They believe it is fair for men to be paid more than women for doing the exact same thing. On three separate occasions over the last four years, Senate Republicans have filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. They have prevented a vote on this issue of justice. But today is a new opportunity for them do what’s right for America’s working women and families.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would help close the wage disparity by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay. Shouldn’t a woman be able to negotiate equal pay? This bill would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination and bar retaliation against employees for discussing salary information. Shouldn’t a woman be able to talk about wage disparity without fear of reprisal? And this legislation would help secure adequate compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. Shouldn’t a woman be able to recoup wages that were illegally withheld? These are commonsense proposals that are supported by the vast majority of Americans – why is there even debate on the issue of equal pay? It is because Republicans continue to stifle debate on this issue – filibustering yet another piece of this legislation.

Instead of doing what’s right for working women, families and our economy, Republicans are saying ‘we won’t even let the United States Senate debate this issue properly.’ Republicans say that there really is no issue – that the pay gap between men and women is exaggerated. Or Republicans say there are already strong federal laws that prevent gender-based pay discrimination. Or Republicans say, as one did here in the Senate last week, that equal pay for women is nothing more than a ‘political show vote.” But when all of their excuses and explanations have been exhausted, their wives, their daughters, and their granddaughters will still be making 77 cents for every dollar their male counterpart makes, for doing the exact same work. That is not fair.

If Republicans won’t stand up for the women in their homes, their communities and all across this nation, Senate Democrats will.

American women deserve better. They deserve fair wages. They deserve a fair shot at providing for their families. American women deserve equality.

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