The Truth About GOP Opposition to Paycheck Fairness

As Senate Republicans today blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, supporting legislation to strengthen equal pay protections for women might seem like a no brainer for Republicans whose own party autopsy cited the need to improve outreach to female voters. But for the extreme conservative Republicans in the Senate – and the Republican candidates seeking to join them – no excuse for voting against this bill has been too low. Just yesterday, Mitch McConnell called the Paycheck Fairness Act a “bizarre obsession” of the left, while Marco Rubio said “I think we’re just wasting time” holding a vote on this bill.

These sad efforts to diminish the very real problem of pay inequality facing many American women are merely an attempt to distract from the fact that so many extreme Republicans, both current Senators and 2014 candidates, don’t support remedies to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.

Background

Bill Cassidy

2009: Cassidy Voted Against Requiring That Employers Prove That Instances Of Unequal Pay For Men And Women Was Job Related. In January 2009, Cassidy voted against a bill that according to Congressional Quarterly “would [have] require[d] employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would [have] bar[red] retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 256 to 163. The text of the bill was appended to the end of H.R. 11 as new matter. H.R. 11 was passed by the House, but the Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 8, 1/9/09; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, H.R. 12; Congressional Actions, H.R. 11]

2009: Cassidy Voted To Cap At $2,000 Per Hour Any Award Of Attorneys’ Fees Against An Employer Found Liable Under The Paycheck Fairness Act. In January 2009, Cassidy voted for an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “stipulat[ed] [that] employers found liable would not be required to compensate for expert fees in excess of $2,000 per hour in discrimination cases described in the measure.” The vote was on a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to report the bill back with the specified amendment. The House rejected the motion by a vote of 178 to 240. [House Vote 7, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, HR 12; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09]

Jack Kingston

2009: Kingston Voted Against Requiring That Employers Prove That Instances Of Unequal Pay For Men And Women Was Job Related. In January 2009, Kingston voted against a bill that according to Congressional Quarterly “would [have] require[d] employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would [have] bar[red] retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 256 to 163. The text of the bill was appended to the end of H.R. 11 as new matter. H.R. 11 was passed by the House, but the Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 8, 1/9/09; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, H.R. 12; Congressional Actions, H.R. 11]

2009: Kingston Voted To Cap At $2,000 Per Hour Any Award Of Attorneys’ Fees Against An Employer Found Liable Under The Paycheck Fairness Act. In January 2009, Kingston voted for an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “stipulat[ed] [that] employers found liable would not be required to compensate for expert fees in excess of $2,000 per hour in discrimination cases described in the measure.” The vote was on a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to report the bill back with the specified amendment. The House rejected the motion by a vote of 178 to 240. [House Vote 7, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, HR 12; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09]

2008: Kingston Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act, Which Made It Easier For Women To Successfully Sue Their Employers Over Unequal Compensation. In July 2008, Kingston voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would make it easier for women who are paid less than their male counterparts to bring suits against their employers and receive compensation. Employers seeking to justify unequal pay would have to prove that disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages. As amended, it would specify that punitive damages could only be awarded to plaintiffs who prove intentional discrimination.” The House passed the bill, named the Paycheck Fairness Act, by a vote of 247 to 178. The Senate took no substantive action on the measure. [House Vote 556, 7/31/08; Congressional Quarterly, 7/31/08; Congressional Actions, H.R. 1338]

Paul Broun

2009: Broun Voted Against Requiring That Employers Prove That Instances Of Unequal Pay For Men And Women Was Job Related. In January 2009, Broun voted against a bill that according to Congressional Quarterly “would [have] require[d] employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would [have] bar[red] retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 256 to 163. The text of the bill was appended to the end of H.R. 11 as new matter. H.R. 11 was passed by the House, but the Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 8, 1/9/09; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, H.R. 12; Congressional Actions, H.R. 11]

2009: Broun Voted To Cap At $2,000 Per Hour Any Award Of Attorneys’ Fees Against An Employer Found Liable Under The Paycheck Fairness Act. In January 2009, Broun voted for an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “stipulat[ed] [that] employers found liable would not be required to compensate for expert fees in excess of $2,000 per hour in discrimination cases described in the measure.” The vote was on a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to report the bill back with the specified amendment. The House rejected the motion by a vote of 178 to 240. [House Vote 7, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, HR 12; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09]

2008: Broun Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act, Which Made It Easier For Women To Successfully Sue Their Employers Over Unequal Compensation. In July 2008, Broun voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would make it easier for women who are paid less than their male counterparts to bring suits against their employers and receive compensation. Employers seeking to justify unequal pay would have to prove that disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages. As amended, it would specify that punitive damages could only be awarded to plaintiffs who prove intentional discrimination.” The House passed the bill, named the Paycheck Fairness Act, by a vote of 247 to 178. The Senate took no substantive action on the measure. [House Vote 556, 7/31/08; Congressional Quarterly, 7/31/08; Congressional

Phil Gingrey

2009: Gingrey Voted Against Requiring That Employers Prove That Instances Of Unequal Pay For Men And Women Was Job Related. In January 2009, Gingrey voted against a bill that according to Congressional Quarterly “would [have] require[d] employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would [have] bar[red] retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 256 to 163. The text of the bill was appended to the end of H.R. 11 as new matter. H.R. 11 was passed by the House, but the Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 8, 1/9/09; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, H.R. 12; Congressional Actions, H.R. 11]

2009: Gingrey Voted To Cap At $2,000 Per Hour Any Award Of Attorneys’ Fees Against An Employer Found Liable Under The Paycheck Fairness Act. In January 2009, Gingrey voted for an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “stipulat[ed] [that] employers found liable would not be required to compensate for expert fees in excess of $2,000 per hour in discrimination cases described in the measure.” The vote was on a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to report the bill back with the specified amendment. The House rejected the motion by a vote of 178 to 240. [House Vote 7, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, HR 12; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09]

2008: Gingrey Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act, Which Made It Easier For Women To Successfully Sue Their Employers Over Unequal Compensation. In July 2008, Gingrey voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would make it easier for women who are paid less than their male counterparts to bring suits against their employers and receive compensation. Employers seeking to justify unequal pay would have to prove that disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages. As amended, it would specify that punitive damages could only be awarded to plaintiffs who prove intentional discrimination.” The House passed the bill, named the Paycheck Fairness Act, by a vote of 247 to 178. The Senate took no substantive action on the measure. [House Vote 556, 7/31/08; Congressional Quarterly, 7/31/08; Congressional Actions, H.R. 1338]

Scott Brown

Brown Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to WMUR, “When a different bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, came to the Senate he help continue the filibuster to block the bill.” [WMUR, 1/28/14]

Video: Brown Opposed The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, “BROWN: Well it’s interesting. I notice your comments on paycheck fairness, on the Dream Act, saying they are no brainers they should pass. With all due respect –[…] in the ‘Boston Globe.’ The ‘Boston Herald’ the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in my state saying ‘Hey right idea but wrong bill’. It’s an early Christmas present for plaintiff’s lawyers who are going to go in and bring lawsuits against not only women-owned businesses but every business in our state and throughout the country. […] I believe — I believe wholeheartedly as a husband or as a house full of women wholeheartedly – […]– in allowing and providing for women to have equal pay. However, there are ways to do it. And that bill, in particular, was not the way to do it. To try to take a bill, give it a great tell — this is what I love about Washington. And you know this because you report there. […] We’re going to save the world today and if you don’t vote for the save the world bill. You hate the world but you read the bill and you find out, my gosh it raises taxes, it puts more regulations on businesses that eliminates the flexibility that women want to have at the work place to not only work but actually raise families. There are so many things just by giving it a title that they not only try to ram it through with no debate and basically obligate our country for millions.” [Fox News, 8/23/13]

Steve Daines

Daines Did Not Sign The Discharge Petition To Move The Paycheck Fairness Act To The House Floor. According to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Steve Daines did not sign a petition to discharge the Committee on Education and the Workforce from the consideration of the bill (H.R. 377) entitled, a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes, which was referred to said committee January 23, 2013, in support of which motion the undersigned Members of the House of Representatives affix their signatures.” [U.S. House of Representatives Clerk, 4/11/13]

Shelley Moore Capito

2009: Capito Voted Against Paycheck Fairness Act. In 2009, Capito voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act that would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The bill would clarify that the statute of limitations applies afresh to each discriminatory paycheck. The court had ruled that workers suing for pay restitution had to do so within 180 days of the first discriminatory paycheck. [House Vote 9, 1/09/09; CQ Weekly, 1/12/09]

2009: Capito Voted Against Requiring That Employers Prove That Instances Of Unequal Pay For Men And Women Was Job Related. In January 2009, Capito voted against a bill that according to Congressional Quarterly “would [have] require[d] employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would [have] bar[red] retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Workers who won wage discrimination cases could collect compensatory and punitive damages.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 256 to 163. The text of the bill was appended to the end of H.R. 11 as new matter. H.R. 11 was passed by the House, but the Senate took no substantive action. [House Vote 8, 1/9/09; Congressional Quarterly, 1/9/09; Congressional Actions, H.R. 12; Congressional Actions, H.R. 11]

Tom Cotton

Cotton Did Not Sign The Discharge Petition To Move The Paycheck Fairness Act To The House Floor. According to the House of Representatives, Cotton’s name did not appear on the petition “to discharge the Committee on Education and the Workforce from the consideration of the bill H.R. 277 entitled, a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes, which was referred to said committee January 23, 2013, in support of which motion the undersigned Members of the House of Representatives affix their signatures.” [House of Representatives, 4/11/13]

Marco Rubio

Rubio Attacked Democrats For Holding A Vote On The Paycheck Fairness Act, And Said It Was “About Scoring Political Points.” In an official press release, Rubio said, “Once again, Senate Democrats have wasted the American people’s time by holding yet another show vote that proves any sense of urgency they have is about scoring political points instead of solving the problems that threaten America’s future.” [Official Marco Rubio Press Release, 6/5/12]

Rubio Called Paycheck Fairness Act “Election-Year Politics” That Read Like A “Welfare Plan For Trial Lawyers.” According to Talking Points Memo, “Republicans unanimously filibustered Democratic-led legislation aimed at closing the pay gap between women and men. The measure would beef up protections for women who sue employers for gender-based wage discrimination or discuss pay with their co-workers — and the GOP blocked it just as it did in late 2010 when the Paycheck Fairness Act last came up. […] ‘It’s pure election-year politics,’ said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). ‘This bill reads more to me like some sort of a welfare plan for trial lawyers.’” [Talking Points Memo, 6/5/12]

Rand Paul

Paul Likened The Paycheck Fairness Act To The Soviet Politburo. According to the Huffington Post, “The Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate on a strictly party line vote on Tuesday. […] But Paul, a staunch libertarian, said passing a law that would have given judges more leeway to determine if a woman had been paid unfairly would be a step toward reviving the Soviet Union’s notorious central governing body here. The United States’ free market, he argued, works much better at setting wages at the appropriate level. ‘Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are,’ Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. ‘In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea.’” [Huffington Post, 6/5/12]

Paul Said The Paycheck Fairness Act Would Do More Harm Than Good. According to WKMS, “To shrink that gap Democrats offered the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is intended to protect women who want to compare their salaries with the men they work with in order to see if there’s a disparity. And it forces employers to prove any salary differences are job-related – not gender based. But Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul says the legislation would do more harm than good. ‘The marketplace decides what wages are. No one person does. But the minute you set up a fairness czar to determine what wages are you give away freedom and you give that power to someone to make decisions, they may well discriminate in favor of whoever they want to discriminate in favor of. The market just makes decisions on your ability to do your job,’ says Paul.” [WKMS, 6/6/12]

Mitch McConnell

McConnell Claimed He’d Worked Entire Career For Pay Equity Despite Votes Against Lily Ledbetter And The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Think Progress, “In an article about his potential Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes’s proposals to combat pay discrimination and help working women, his campaign spokeswoman told the Lexington Herald-Leader, ‘As the father of three daughters, fair pay for women is more than a talking point for Sen. McConnell.’ She added, ‘It’s something he’s worked to achieve his entire career by setting an example for others and promoting thoughtful policies to ensure talent overcomes bias.’ Yet McConnell voted twice against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which eased the requirements for women to seek remedies for pay discrimination in court by providing them more time. It was signed into law by President Obama shortly after he assumed the office. McConnell has also voted twice against the Paycheck Fairness Act. That law would increase penalties against employers who discriminate in order to prevent it in the first place, tighten the rules about what counts as a justifiable pay difference, and ban the practice of salary secrecy, something that means about half of all workers are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with each other and that makes it very difficult for women to root out discrimination.” [Think Progress, 11/25/13]

McConnell Opposed The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to the New York Times, “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is already attacking Mr. McConnell on his opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help women fight pay discrimination in the workplace, and his recent vote on the Violence Against Women Act.” [New York Times, 7/24/13]

McConnell Voted Against Requiring Businesses To Show That Male-Female Wage Discrepancies Were Not Gender-Based. In June 2012, McConnell voted against a bill that, according to the McClatchy Washington Bureau, “would [have] require[d] businesses to show that wage discrepancies between men and women are not based on gender.” The vote was on invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill, titled the Paycheck Fairness Act; it failed by a vote of 52 to 47. [Senate Vote 115, 6/5/12; McClatchy Washington Bureau, 6/4/12]

McConnell Voted Against Prohibiting Retaliation Against Workers Who Reveal Their Wages. In June 2012, McConnell voted Against a bill that, according to McClatchy Washington Bureau, would have “ban[ned] retaliation against workers who reveal their wages or try to get wage information from their employers.” The provision was part of a bill that, according to McClatchy Washington Bureau, ““would [have] require[d] businesses to show that wage discrepancies between men and women are not based on gender.” The vote was on invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill, titled the Paycheck Fairness Act; it failed by a vote of 52 to 47. [Senate Vote 115, 6/5/12; McClatchy Washington Bureau, 6/4/12]