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 SmithRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey The 9 House Republicans who support background checks The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 DeLauroMigrants in US border detention centers won't receive flu vaccine Lawmakers point to entitlements when asked about deficits House bill would make World Cup funds contingent on equal pay 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 ScottDemocrats: Trump plan could jeopardize 500,000 children's free school meals Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour MORE (D-Va.) said during debate.

GOP Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad Illinois House Republicans call on Trump to not commute Blagojevich's sentence MORE (Ill.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans House fails to pass temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans MORE (Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Ensuring quality health care for those with intellectual disabilities and autism House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (Pa.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Democrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedRepublicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Democratic plan for smaller paychecks House passes bill to update tax code to help same-sex married couples MORE (N.Y.), Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Press: Democrats dare to think big Dem chairwoman seeks watchdog probe of Park Service’s shutdown operations 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 Foxx58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House When disaster relief hurts 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 StefanikRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker 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.