By Vicki Needham - 05/16/14 03:48 PM EDT
A leading House Democrat said Friday that there are plenty of women seeking equal pay like former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson providing another sign that it is time to finally pass legislation.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), author of a measure that would ensure pay equity, applauded news reports about Abramson’s attempt to get a salary increase amid revelations that she was paid less than her predecessor at the Times.
Abramson was fired from the Times this week less than three years into her tenure as head of the newsroom.
A flurry of follow-up news reports said she was let go because of her fight with upper management for pay equal to that of her male counterparts.
DeLauro, who has introduced a paycheck fairness bill each year since 1997, called the issue “a very real problem that hurts women and their families.”
Her bill is designed to close the wage gap between women and men working the same jobs. It passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2008 and 2009 but failed to gain traction in the Senate.
“Too often, the public engages in victim-blaming when a woman is paid less for doing the same job as a man,” DeLauro said.
"I hope the drumbeat on pay inequity continues loud and strong, and does not fade from the headlines once our attention span starts to wane.”
DeLauro’s comments come on the heels of those made Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who called Abramson's firing a “perfect example” of why the Senate should pass legislation.
Reid said he saw reporting by The New Yorker saying Abramson was ousted, after she hired a lawyer and “confronted the top brass” about the difference in her salary and pension benefits from previous editor, Bill Keller.
"She raised questions about … being paid less for doing the same job that the second in command was and certainly, now, her predecessor got a lot more money than she got,” Reid said.
“It’s a perfect example, if it’s true, why we should pass paycheck equity.”
Democrats have put issues such as raising the minimum wage and pay equity at the top of their election-year agenda.
Last month, the Senate came up short for a third time in passing the measure sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and backed by 52 co-sponsors. The effort needed 60 votes.