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House passes Paycheck Fairness Act

A bill aimed at strengthening protections against wage discrimination and holding employers accountable passed the House mostly along party lines on Wednesday.

The chamber voted 242-187 for the Paycheck Fairness Act, with seven Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the bill. It was co-sponsored by 238 Democrats and GOP Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithWoman tased, arrested for trespassing for not wearing mask at Ohio football game China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong China sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation MORE (N.J.).

Proponents of the legislation argue it’s a necessary step to close the wage gap. It has been introduced multiple times since 1997 to amend the Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act, and was reintroduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroDangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations MORE (D-Conn.) in January.

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“After decades of failing to address persistent wage inequity, this is our opportunity to strengthen the Equal Pay Act, boast the rights of working women, lift families out of poverty, and finally align our remedies for gender discrimination with other established anti-discrimination laws,” House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottNational reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Trump officials approve Georgia plan to remove healthcare.gov as enrollment option House committee subpoenas Education Department staff over for-profit colleges MORE (D-Va.) said during debate.

GOP Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond MORE (Ill.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus MORE (Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDivided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  Fitzpatrick wins reelection in Pennsylvania MORE (Pa.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (Texas), Tom ReedTom ReedDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Bipartisan lawmakers call for expedited diabetes research The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Dems push McConnell on COVID-19 relief; Grassley contracts COVID-19 MORE (N.Y.), Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonDuring a time of uncertainty, Great American Outdoors Act deserves our support Dentists want coronavirus testing kits before reopening MLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues MORE (Idaho) and Smith joined Democrats in voting for the measure on Wednesday.

The bill includes provisions that would bar employers from inquiring about prospective employees’ salaries, prohibit retaliation against employees who compare wages and require employers to demonstrate that pay discrepancies are based on legitimate factors. The legislation would also push to eliminate "barriers" that would make it more difficult for employees to file a class-action lawsuit over pay discrimination and would create a program providing training on negotiation for females.

Critics of the bill argue it fails to strengthen equal work for equal pay and could potentially lead to an influx of unnecessary lawsuits.

"Everyone in this House is in agreement that pay discrimination on the basis of sex is wrong. No matter how you look at it, the law is very clear about this. But this bill doesn't do anything to help working women. This is a bill for trial lawyers, plain and simple," House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxLobbying world Federal watchdog finds escalating cyberattacks on schools pose potential harm to students House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall MORE (R-N.C.), said on the floor ahead of the vote.

"And that's what shows a fundamental difference in outlook and principle. Democrats want women to sue their bosses, Republicans want women to become the bosses.”

GOP Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Cuomo reverses on in-person Thanksgiving plans with family Women of both parties must seize the momentum MORE (N.Y.) is leading the efforts on an alternative bill, the WAGE Equity Act, aimed at eliminating gender pay discrepancies, Politico first reported.

The Democratic-backed bill is unlikely to see movement in the GOP-controlled Senate.