Republicans try and fail to stop equal pay bill from advancing in House

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The Paycheck Fairness Act passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee without a single vote from the committee's Republican members.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted 27-19 Tuesday to advance a bill that helps close the gender wage gap.

Every single "yes" vote came from Democrats, while every single Republican on the committee opposed the bill, which now moves to the full House for a vote.

H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, is designed to close loopholes and strengthen existing policies to make sure employers pay women as much as men for doing comparable work. The bill updates and adds necessary protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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"Today, women earn, on average, 80 cents on the dollar compared to white men in similar jobs," Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the Education and Labor Committee, said before the vote. "The wage gap is even worse for women of color, particularly black women, and persists in nearly every line of work, regardless of education, experience, occupation, industry, or job title."

"When women succeed, America succeeds," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when the bill, one of her priorities for the new Democratic majority, was introduced.

The bill has been introduced in past years, only to go nowhere after meeting staunch opposition from Republicans. GOP leaders have called the bill unnecessary since gender-based discrimination is already illegal.

Yet the gender wage gap persists — and robs women of $500 billion each year, Scott noted.

Now, Democrats finally have a chance to start doing something about it.

The 2018 midterms returned a Democratic majority to power in the House — fueled in large part by a surge of women running for office for the first time, and by women across the country voting to get rid of anti-equality Republicans.

For the first time ever, there are more than 100 women in Congress — even though the number of Republican women fell sharply after the midterms.

Led by more women than ever, the new Democratic majority is already hard at work on legislation to advance women's equality.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.