McMorris Rodgers: Equal pay, the only way

The House's highest-ranking female Republican sought to rebuff criticism over a move by Senate GOP lawmakers this week to block equal pay legislation. 

"I have always supported equal pay for equal work," said Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) in Saturday's weekly Republican address. 

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"If a woman is being paid less than a man because of gender discrimination, that is both wrong and against the law. The protections provided to women and others in the Equal Pay Act must be enforced."

She added, "But for women across American, it's not just about equal pay. It's about achieving a better life." 

Republicans are under fire from Democrats on equal pay as the left seeks to bolster its position ahead of November's midterm elections. 

Democrats seek the issue as a way to solidify their support from women, a voting bloc whose leanings will help determine which party maintains the Senate next year. 

Senate Republicans unanimously blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act on Wednesday, the third time in recent years that the legislation failed to advance. 

Democrats needed 60 votes for the bill to move to open debate on the Senate floor, and they fell six votes short. 

Designed to close the gender pay gap, the measure would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who share wage data under certain circumstances. 

The act would also make companies liable to civil action over pay discrimination. 

Republicans argue that the bill would burden business with unnecessary lawsuits, reducing jobs and benefiting trial lawyers. 

The House Republican Conference Chairwoman did not mention the bill on Saturday, but redirected criticism to tout GOP policies while arguing that President Obama is dragging down the economy. 

"The unemployment rate for women rose last month. Meanwhile growth is slow and wages are stagnant," she said. 

"Instead of politicizing women, let's celebrate the extraordinarily positive role they play in our economy and focus on how we can further expand that role."