On Floor, Cantwell Calls for Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act
Cantwell on Equal Pay Day: ‘It’s time for the Senate to end pay discrimination’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a U.S. Senate floor speech today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for bipartisan action to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to help end the discrimination American women face in the workplace. Cantwell, a cosponsor of the bill introduced by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), took to the floor this afternoon on “Equal Pay Day” to highlight the importance of closing the wage gap between women and men working the same jobs.
“The truth is that many women are the breadwinners of the family and they should be paid as breadwinners. They should not face discrimination,” Cantwell said in the floor speech. “It’s time for the Senate to end pay discrimination by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.”
Watch a video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech here.
Building upon the landmark 1963 Equal Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue. It would also require employers to provide a justification other than gender for paying men higher wages than women for the same job and would provide victims of pay discrimination with the same remedies available to victims of other kinds of discrimination.
“While we’ve made progress over the last five decades since we passed the Equal Pay Act, we still have a long way to go,” Cantwell said. “I want young women growing up today to know this is not an issue they are going to have to deal with in the future. They will get equal pay.”
Today, Senator Cantwell and fellow cosponsors of the Paycheck Fairness Act spoke on the floor to raise awareness for “Equal Pay Day,” the day that marks how far into 2014 the average woman has to work to match what the average man earned in 2013.
Cantwell was also a cosponsor of the landmark Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was signed by President Obama in 2009. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarified that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal pay lawsuit resets with each discriminatory paycheck.
Excerpts from Senator Cantwell’s remarks today:
- “From around age 35 through retirement, women are typically paid about 75 to 80 percent of what men are paid. Over her lifetime, a woman in Washington will earn $500,000 less than her male counterparts. That’s money that can’t be saved or invested for the future. We must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to end this disparity.”
- “The message from the American people is clear: they want Congress to focus on the most important economic issues of the day: that is jobs. Having a job that pays you equally for the work that you do is critically important.”
- “Right now, one-third of families headed by a woman in Washington state live in poverty. Closing the wage gap means women in Washington would be able to afford 82 more weeks of food, according to the Partnership for Woman and Families.”
- “This is important legislation that will end the discrimination that women are seeing in the workplace.”
A complete transcript of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks is below.
Thank you Madame President.
I’d like to join my colleagues and thank the Senator from Missouri for her statement as somebody who’s been involved in making sure the law is implemented. I want to thank Senator Mikulski for her leadership in advocating for equal pay for equal work. She has been a champion of this for many years and she’s insistent now that we pass this legislation.
That’s why we’re here: because we want to make sure our colleagues understand how important it is to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation and end the discrimination that many women face in America.
This is a critical issue not just to women but to men, because the households of America deserve to have both people making equal pay.
The message from the American people is clear: They want Congress to focus on the most important economic issues of the day: that is jobs. Certainly having a job that pays you equally for the work that you do is critically important.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is exactly what we should be working on: ways to strengthen the pocketbook of many Americans.
While we’ve made progress over the last five decades since we passed the Equal Pay Act, we still have a long way to go.
In my state—the State of Washington—women are paid 78 cents for every dollar that men earn for the same work. That amounts to an average wage gap of $11,000 per year.
The truth is that many women are the breadwinners of the family and they should be paid as breadwinners. They should not face discrimination.
Today, women make up 48 percent of the workforce in the State of Washington, and these families are very important to our economy.
On average, mothers in Washington provide 41 percent of their household income and, nationally, 40 percent of woman are the sole primary breadwinners for their household.
This is an important issue for our economy. Just think of the boost they would get; the boost that we would see if they were paid equally.
Right now, one-third of those families headed by women in Washington live in poverty. Closing the wage gap means that they would be able to afford 82 more weeks of food, according to the Partnership for Woman and Families. It would mean better economic freedom -- the ability to buy more essentials.
It means their families would be better off.
Not only does this pay gap affect a woman’s ability to support her family -- the pay gap also reduces the ability to save for the future.
From around the age of 35 through retirement, women are typically paid about 75 to 80 percent of what men are paid. Over their lifetime, a woman in Washington will earn over $500,000 less than her male counterpart. That’s money that could be saved and invested for the future.
We must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to end this disparity.
This Act will: require employers to provide justification other than gender for paying men higher wages than women for the exact same job; protect employees who share that information with others from being retaliated against; and provide victims of pay discrimination with the same remedies available to victims of other kinds of discrimination, including punitive and compensatory damages.
So this is important legislation. It is important legislation that will end the discrimination that woman are seeing in the workplace.
The Paycheck Fairness Act will also help eliminate the pay gap to help these families that are struggling in this economy.
Even in fields like engineering and computer science, women earn on average only 75 percent of their male counterparts. A woman with a master’s degree will only make 70 cents for every dollar of her equally educated male counterpart.
It’s time the Senate end this pay discrimination by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. That’s why I’ve been happy to sponsor this legislation and work with my colleagues.
I want young women growing up today that this is not an issue they are going to have to deal with in the future. They will get equal pay.
So I thank my colleagues. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will help us in invoking cloture and providing the votes we need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
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