These GOP congressmen voted against the equal pay bill they co-sponsored


Reps. Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey voted against their own legislation.

New Jersey Reps. Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew were among the 210 House Republicans who voted against a House bill that would fight pay discrimination and reduce the pay gap between men and women.

Both are co-sponsors of the legislation.

The House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act by a 217-210 vote on Thursday. The bill would protect employees from being punished by their employers for discussing their salaries, require employers to demonstrate that any inequity in pay among employees is not gender-based, and eliminate provisions in existing law that make it difficult for plaintiffs to sue employers over pay inequity.

The bill is aimed at remedying a stark employment gap: Census Bureau data from 2018 shows that women make just 82 cents for every $1 that men earn. The gap is wider for Black and Latina women: Black women make 62 cents for every $1 earned by white men, and women identifying as Hispanic or Latino make 54 cents.

Democrats have tried to enact the Paycheck Fairness Act in every Congress since 1997. Versions passed the House in 2008, 2009, and 2019, mostly along party lines, but each time attracting a handful of Republican votes. It died in the Senate each time due to widespread GOP opposition.

Van Drew, who was a Democrat at the time, and Smith both voted for the bill, nearly identical to the bill currently introduced in Congress, in March 2019. Smith, in a September 2020 post still viewable on his official House website, said that he "recognizes the vital role of women in providing for the financial needs of their families" and that during the 116th Congress, he "voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act (HR 7), to provide women with equal pay for equal work."

Neither congressman immediately responded to inquiries for this story.

When chief sponsor Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) filed this year's version of the bill on Jan. 28, Smith was listed as an original co-sponsor. Van Drew signed on as a co-sponsor on Feb. 23. As of Friday morning, neither had withdrawn their co-sponsorship of the bill they voted against.

This is not the first time Van Drew has completely flip-flopped on legislation during his 27 months in Congress. The party-switcher co-sponsored the For the People Act, the voting rights and democracy reform bill, and the Equality Act, the bill to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people, but abandoned his support for both after pledging his "undying support" for Donald Trump.

Polls show the American public has consistently been in strong support of legislation to improve pay equity. But just one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voted for the bill on Thursday night.

It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle to overcome a possible GOP filibuster.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.