House Passes Bill Targeting Gender Wage Gap

WASHINGTON (CN) – In a vote on the latest version of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation bolstering equal pay 242-187 on Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, which has been continually reintroduced to Congress since the 1990s, would provide negotiation training to women and girls, funding for research on pay inequality, stiffer penalties to businesses that have a gender pay gap, and training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission members.

Just this month, the Pew Research Center took a look at the gender pay gap, which narrowed a bit in the 1980s, but remains stubbornly stable. The study showed that in 2018, women made 85 percent of what men earned when looking at full-time and part-time workers across the U.S. Put another way, Pew estimated it would have taken 39 days of extra work for women to make what men did last year.  

In another Pew study from 2017, 42 percent of women said they had experienced some sort of discrimination in the workplace, compared with 22 percent of men.  

Democrat Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland said on the House floor Wednesday it is “shameful” lawmakers are still debating this issue, telling his colleagues he hoped his own daughters would be paid for great merit, and “not on the fact that they happen to be daughters, instead of sons.”

“Who intellectually can oppose that concept,” Hoyer asked. “Who with any sense of fairness and fair play could oppose that concept?”

Republicans, while agreeing there needs to be equal pay for equal work, pushed back on the regulations for businesses and the risk of increased legal action against entrepreneurs should the measure pass. The bill, for example, would raise the legal standards business must meet in order to claim any pay gaps aren’t based on discrimination.

On the floor before the vote, Representative Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said the bill would do little more than “lining the pockets of trial lawyers.”

While the bill passed a Democratic-controlled House on Wednesday, it isn’t expected to get through the Republican-controlled Senate.

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