January 29, 2013
“Four years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act… the single greatest legislative step to ensure women have every chance to be full, equal participants in the workforce since the Equal Pay Act of 1963.”
“It’s simply not fair that any woman working the same hours in the same job should make less money than her male coworker.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery.
Today women make up nearly half of the American workforce. Women graduate from college at higher rates than men. More women were sworn into the 113th Congress than any before it, and there are more women in the Senate Democratic Caucus than ever before. Millions of women in the United States are the primary wage earners for their families. And women are now free to fight for this country on the front lines of battle. Yet for millions of American women, no amount of valor, talent or dedication will bring pay equality with their male peers.
Women still take home 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing exactly the same work. That’s true regardless of whether a woman has a college degree, regardless of what job she holds and regardless of how many hours she spends at the office or factory each week.
Four years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That legislation – the first bill Barack Obama signed as President – was the single greatest legislative step to ensure women have every chance to be full, equal participants in the workforce since the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
But while this landmark legislation built on the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and narrowed the pay gap, it still hasn’t closed that gap. So the Senior Senator from Maryland, Senator Barbara Mikulski, introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act last Congress.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a logical extension of protections under the Equal Pay Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It would help close the wage disparity by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay and creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws already in place. It would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination and bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information. And it would help secure adequate compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination.
It’s simply not fair that any woman working the same hours in the same job should make less money than her male coworker.
Unfortunately, this common-sense legislation was blocked by a Republican filibuster last Congress. But Senator Mikulski, who has done so much to advance the cause of pay equity, reintroduced the measure last week.
As we mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, I applaud Senator Mikulski and the women of the Senate Democratic Caucus for their dedication to American women and families – and to the principle of equality.