Reid Remarks On Senate Republicans’ Determination To Block Debate On Equal Pay Legislation

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“If Senate Republicans are ideologically opposed to ensuring equal pay for equal work, they are free to vote against passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. But today’s vote is to simply begin debate on the bill.“

“ As was once wisely noted by Hubert Humphrey, the long-time Senator from Minnesota and former Vice President: “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate. Let us debate this bill.” 

“Today we’ll see if Senate Republicans will give working women and their families a fair shot by voting to debate the Paycheck Fairness Act.” 

Washington, D.C. Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senate Republicans efforts to prevent a debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today the Senate will vote on whether to begin debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act. This much-needed legislation provides important protections for women in the workplace. It addresses wage disparities by helping women negotiate for equal pay. And it empowers workers to fight back against wage discrimination.  This is a good bill. It helps working women in Nevada and across the country. But for some unknown reason, Senate Republicans do not appear to be interested in closing the wage gap for working women. Four years ago, they filibustered this legislation. Two years later, they did the same thing. Now, for a third time, the Paycheck Fairness Act is before us and we have the opportunity to begin debate on the bill.  And yet again, Senate Republicans have indicated that they may not let us even begin the debate.

If Senate Republicans are ideologically opposed to ensuring equal pay for equal work, they are free to vote against passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. But today’s vote is to simply begin debate on the bill. Are Republicans in the Senate so repulsed by equal pay for hard-working American women that they can’t even stomach the thought of debating the issue? Instead, Republican Senators have come to the floor and tried to offer amendments that have nothing to do with equal pay. As I said yesterday, if Senators wish to offer amendments to the Paycheck Fairness Act, they first need to vote to begin debate on the bill. I am at a loss as to why anyone would decline to debate such an important issue.  Debate is what this institution is all about. As was once wisely noted by Hubert Humphrey, the long-time Senator from Minnesota and former Vice President: “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate.” Let us debate this bill.

Together we can find a solution to pay inequality – inequality that will cost the average working woman $464,320 over her lifetime. American families want us to debate this bill. They want us to pass this bill. People who support the Paycheck Fairness Act are calling their representatives here in Washington, writing letters, posting on social media and attending equal pay rallies. Our constituents have made their feelings known, but evidently Republicans don’t seem to get it. It reminds me of an observation made by Henry David Thoreau: “It takes two to speak the truth; one to speak, and another to hear.” Senate Democrats have heard the truth about giving women a fair shot for equal pay for equal work. When will Republicans? The truth is that working women make on average 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing exactly the same work. That is not fair. Today we’ll see if Senate Republicans will give working women and their families a fair shot by voting to debate the Paycheck Fairness Act.  I, along with millions of working women in Nevada and across the country, am hoping this third time will be the charm for Senate Republicans.

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