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 SmithLawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad Cheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight House approves pro-union labor bill 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 DeLauroStimulus price tag of .2T falls way short, some experts say Paid sick leave is a universal right: The time has come Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Trump, Congress struggle for economic deal amid coronavirus threat | Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol | Coronavirus emerges as 2020 flashpoint 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 ScottInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Democrats eye major infrastructure component in next coronavirus package House passes trillion coronavirus relief bill, with Trump to sign quickly MORE (D-Va.) said during debate.

GOP Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisTrump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Democrats press for more stimulus funding to boost mail-in voting MORE (Ill.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBottom Line House chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection Capitol officials extend suspension of tourist access until May MORE (Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDemocrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' This week: Trump's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill House approves pro-union labor bill MORE (Pa.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGarth Brooks accepts Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Gun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 MORE (Texas), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Overnight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran MORE (N.Y.), Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonMLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers 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 FoxxHouse Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis Congress debating ways to help boost economy hit by coronavirus Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus 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 StefanikLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Congress tiptoes toward remote voting 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.