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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Paycheck Fairness Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2014-04-08

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    REID. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to Calendar No. 345, S. 2199, the Paycheck Fairness Act.



    The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.

    The bill clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 345, S. 2199, a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.

    Schedule Mr. REID. Mr. President, following my remarks and those of the Republican leader, the Senate will be in morning business until 12:30 p.m., with the time equally divided and controlled. The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for our weekly caucus meetings, as we always do on Tuesdays.

    Measure Placed on the Calendar--H.R. 2575 Mr. President, I understand that H.R. 2575 is at the desk and due for a second reading.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Booker). The clerk will read the bill by title for the second time.

    The bill clerk read as follows: A bill (H.R. 2575) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification of a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40 hours.

    Mr. REID. I object to any further proceedings at this time.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar.

    Equal Pay Day Mr. REID. Mr. President, Ralph Waldo Emerson said this: ``America is another name for opportunity.'' ``America is another name for opportunity.'' Today this body, the Senate, should put Emerson's words to the test as we turn attention to the question of equal pay. For working American women, millions of whom are primary wage earners for their families, the Paycheck Fairness Act represents a unique opportunity, a chance to better provide for themselves and their families.

    It is unconscionable that American women currently take home an average of 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing the exact same work. Wage disparity is true regardless of whether a woman has a college degree, what job she holds or how many hours she spends at the office or factory or wherever it might be.

    Consider this just for a brief moment: For a woman to make the same salary as a man in 1 year for doing similar work in America, she must work not only that year but also an additional 3 months and 8 days. That is why today, April 8, the eighth day of the fourth month, is Equal Pay Day. It represents the extra work American women have to put forth to provide for their families. This is an injustice and should not be permitted to take place in America. While President Obama and Democrats have made significant progress toward helping women achieve equal pay, there is still much for us to do.

    Five years ago the very first law President Obama ever signed, the first act he performed in the Oval Office, was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Remember, this is the legislation based on the good woman who found out--after having worked at this place for so many years, having additional responsibilities than all the men--they were all getting paid much more than she. She was the boss getting paid less than the people who worked for her. Why? Because she is a woman.

    The Lilly Ledbetter legislation is the biggest step Congress has taken on behalf of women to help them with their wages since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The bill provides that the statute of limitations doesn't begin to run until someone finds out they are being cheated by their employer. The legislation helped address the pay gap, but women still suffer from discriminatory wage disparity.

    The Paycheck Fairness Act goes a step further by providing protections for women in the workplace. This legislation addresses unequal wages by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay and giving employers incentives to obey current law.

    I was happy to hear all the news accounts that I was able to be briefed on--along with those I listened to on public radio while I was doing my exercises--the detailed accounts about how [[Page S2204]] women are not treated fairly. The legislation we are working on enables women to fight against wage discrimination while also preventing retaliation against employees who discuss salary information. Before Lilly Ledbetter and even today if you discuss what someone else makes you can be fired. That is the way it is in most places in America. It would finally give much needed assistance to victims of gender-based pay discrimination.

    Simply put, the Paycheck Fairness Act gives American women the fair shot they deserve. Unfortunately, efforts to address this issue have not been well received by Republicans. A similar bill addressing equal pay--despite a Republican filibuster--passed Congress and the Congress before that. Let's hope the third time is a charm for American women. Let's hope Republicans will finally do what is right.

    In any other circumstance Republicans would be up in arms with this type of economic discrimination--I would hope. They should be up in arms in terms of equal pay for women also. Why is it that so many Republicans are content to allow women working the same hours in the same job to make less money than their male coworkers? It is hard to comprehend, since women make up nearly half the U.S. labor force and more than half of the people enrolled in college. We are finding that the majority of students enrolled in professional schools, law schools, medical schools are women. Is it reasonable to assume that women should be treated unfairly? Is it reasonable to assume that Republicans in this body have wives, daughters or sisters who are or will be affected by this wage disparity and shouldn't we do something about it? I urge my colleagues to keep those loved ones--people such as my daughter and my many granddaughters--in their minds and in their thoughts when considering the question of equal pay for women. We will have the first vote the day after tomorrow. We will have this vote. To do otherwise would simply be unfair.

    Recognition of the Minority Leader The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader is recognized.

    NCAA Championship Kudos Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I wish to take a minute to congratulate the Kentucky Wildcats for an extraordinary season. My home State has held on to the NCAA national championship trophy for the past 2 years, with the Louisville Cardinals claiming it last year and the Kentucky Wildcats winning it in 2012. John Calipari's young Wildcats started five freshmen who played like seasoned veterans and made an incredible run that captivated both our State and the Nation.

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