On the eve of what could be a pivotal senate vote, the White House began a push to pressure Republicans into supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill, which the administration has dubbed “an issue of fairness,” would help to close the ever-widening wage gap between men and women who do equal work, but do not get equal pay.
In a conference call, Chair of White House Council for Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett encouraged supporters of the act to in turn encourage their senators to pass the legislation. “Equal pay for equal work isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” she stated.
President Barack Obama outlined how the bill, if approved, would be a benefit not just to women but to all Americans.
“We’re in a make or break moment for the middle class,” said Obama. “Congress needs to step forward and do their jobs. This is more than just about fairness. Women are the breadwinners for many families. If they get paid less, everybody suffers.”
The tenets of the Paycheck Fairness Act are simple. The bill would require that companies pay female employees doing the same job as male employees the same pay as their male counterparts, and if they do not, they must prove that the discrepancy is a business necessity and not gender-based. Companies would no longer be able to forbid public discussion of pay, a ploy that has been used to keep female employees from learning how much their male counterparts earn and vice versa. It would also prohibit retailiation if a woman files a complaint after learning that she may be receiving discriminatory wages.
The bill will need 60 votes to move forward, which means bipartisan support will be required just to get it to an actual up or down vote, but this isn’t expected to happen.
Key senators to watch during the debate will be Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Massachusett’s Scott Brown, and Nevada’s Dean Heller, all of whom will see their votes — either for or against the bill — be brought up during their 2012 campaigns. Also worth watching will be the rest of the Republican women senators: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte and Texas’s Kay Bailey Hutchison, to see where they end up voting when it comes to the “women only care about the economy” GOP talking point. After all, if the Republican party wants to improve the women’s economics picture, what better way than to help them earn the same pay as men?
New reports show that despite both changes to the economy and an increase of women in the workforce, the wage gap continues to be a large economic problem, and one that grows bigger the longer a woman is employed. By the end of her career, a woman loses over $400,000 to the wage gap over her lifetime. The wage gap has become a top issue for single women in country, a group that is now believed to make up almost 25 percent of voters this November.