News Releases

VIDEO: Murray Highlights Ways Democratic Policies Would Expand Economic Opportunity for Women in Today’s Workforce

Sep 09 2014

Murray Challenges Republicans to Explain Blocking Votes on Equal Pay, Minimum Wage, College Affordability



(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks on the Senate floor outlining the ways Democrats’ policies would help give working women a fair shot in the 21st century economy, and shared stories from Washington state women who would benefit from Democrats’ proposals.  

In her remarks, Senator Murray challenged Senate Republicans to explain their opposition to key parts of Democrats’ Fair Shot agenda, because after Republicans blocked bills earlier this year to strengthen pay equity, give millions of women across the country a raise, and make college more affordable, women in Washington state and across the country deserve to know what Republicans would offer instead.

See below for more on Senator Murray’s ongoing efforts to highlight policies that would expand economic security for women and their families:

Watch Senator Murray’s remarks here.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“I’m proud that this year, Senate Democrats have focused on legislation that would go a long way toward giving families and workers a fair shot. We’ve made the case for: giving millions of workers across the country a raise, helping students get out from under the crushing burden of student loan debt, ensuring that in the 21st century, working women get equal pay, and much more. And in the coming days, we are going to bring these issues to the forefront once again—and make another push for our Republican colleagues to join us.”

“I’m also going to urge my Republican colleagues to say something besides ‘no’ when it comes to higher wages for workers, college affordability, and pay equity. Because if they’ve got a reason for opposing legislation that would help women and families get ahead, I think the American people deserve to hear it.”

“Democrats have put forward ideas throughout the year that would help level the playing field. And it’s been deeply disappointing that, time after time, my Republican colleagues have simply said no. No to tackling pay discrimination through the Paycheck Fairness Act. No to giving millions of workers across the country—including 15 million women—a raise. No to legislation that would relieve some of the crushing burden of student loan debt. And unfortunately, the list goes on.”

“In the next few days, Madam President, Republicans will have an opportunity to take a different approach than they have so far this year. And I’m calling on the Senate Republican leader to take advantage of it. We should be able to debate these important issues. Democrats have put solutions on the table—a higher minimum wage, student debt relief, giving women more tools to fight pay discrimination, and more. And if Republicans have more to say than ‘no,’ it’s time for them to do the same.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Madam President, over the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time traveling across my home state of Washington, hearing from workers and families about the challenges they face in today’s economy.

“And, while there’s no question the economy has made a lot of progress, I spoke with far too many people who are working as hard as they can and still feel like they are running in place.

“Despite their best efforts, they haven’t achieved the kind of economic security that would allow them to do things like buy a first home, save for retirement, or start the new business they’ve been thinking about.

“I think we can all agree that more Americans should have those kinds of opportunities.

“So I’m proud that this year, Senate Democrats have focused on legislation that would go a long way toward giving families and workers a fair shot.

“We’ve made the case for: giving millions of workers across the country a raise, helping students get out from under the crushing burden of student loan debt, ensuring that in the 21st century, working women get equal pay, and much more.

“And in the coming days, we are going to bring these issues to the forefront once again—and make another push for our Republican colleagues to join us.

“Each one of these policies would do so much for families and for economic growth.  And that’s especially true because each would help women in today’s workforce.

“I’ve come to the floor to focus on that last point in particular, and talk about why each of these bills would make a real difference for women across the country.

“Madam President, you may remember that my Republican colleagues blocked these bills the last time Democrats brought them to the floor.

“So today, I’m also going to urge my Republican colleagues to say something besides ‘no’ when it comes to higher wages for workers, college affordability, and pay equity.

“Because if they’ve got a reason for opposing legislation that would help women and families get ahead, I think the American people deserve to hear it.

“Madam President, the role of women in families and in our economy has shifted dramatically in the last several decades. 

“Today, 60 percent of families rely on earnings from both parents—up from 37 percent in 1975.

“Women make up nearly half of our workforce.  And more than ever, women are likely to be the primary breadwinner in their families.

“Women are making a difference across our economy, in board rooms and lecture halls and small businesses.

“But our policies haven’t caught up with the times. In fact, they are holding women back.

“Across the country, women still earn 77 cents on the dollar on average compared to men.  This difference really adds up.

“In Seattle, Washington last year, women earned 73 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts—and that translated to a yearly gap of $16,346.

“Nationwide, over a typical woman’s lifetime, pay discrimination amounts to $464,320 in lost wages.  The gender wage gap makes dealing with other financial burdens, like student loans, even more challenging.

“Madam President, this spring I invited a woman from Massachusetts named AnnMarie Duchon to a Budget Committee hearing, to testify about her experience with pay inequity.

“AnnMarie told us that over the years, she missed out on more than $12,000 in wages compared to her male coworker.

“She and her husband both have student loan debt—and those lost wages could have covered ten months of payments. AnnMarie said thinking about that setback was ‘heartbreaking.’

“Now, AnnMarie was ultimately able to go back and convince her employers to give her equal pay. But unfortunately most women aren’t able to do that. Many don’t even know they are earning unequal wages.

“Madam President, that is a real loss—both for families and for our economy as a whole.

“And that’s why we need the Paycheck Fairness Act, to tackle pay discrimination head-on and help ensure that in the 21st century, workers are compensated based on how they do their jobs, not their gender.

“Another policy that really needs an update is our federal minimum wage. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers today are women. Many are the sole breadwinners and the sole caregivers for their families.

“And I know that if you ask them how $7.25 an hour translates to a grocery trip for a family of four, or shopping for school supplies, or just paying for transportation to and from work…

“They’ll give you a straight answer: it doesn’t.

“Madam President, Democrats know it’s time they got a raise.

“Republicans disagree—they said ‘no’ earlier this year to a raise for 15 million women—and I think the American people deserve to hear why.

“Women aren’t the only ones affected by these challenges, Madam President.

“Because when working women aren’t getting equal pay—when they haven’t gotten a raise in years—when they’re struggling to make ends meet—that means their families are too.

“And our economy as a whole is weaker for it.

“Democrats have put forward ideas throughout the year that would help level the playing field.

“And it’s been deeply disappointing that, time after time, my Republican colleagues have simply said no.

“No to tackling pay discrimination through the Paycheck Fairness Act…

“No to giving millions of workers across the country—including 15 million women—a raise.

“No to legislation that would relieve some of the crushing burden of student loan debt.

“And unfortunately, the list goes on.

“Madam President, Republicans rejected so much as a debate on each of these bills a few months ago.

“And that’s a real shame, because we know these are issues women and families really care about.

“They rightly expect us to be working together to come up with solutions.

“And if Republicans are going to reject our ideas, I think our constituents deserve to hear what else they have to offer.

“Madam President, when I was in Washington state last month I spoke with an entrepreneur named Leilani Finau.

“Leilani has worked hard to get her business off the ground, and for the last 12 years, she’s only been able to pay interest on her student loans.

“So, more than a decade later, she still owes the same amount of principal.

“I also talked with Veronica Donoso, an administrative specialist and single mom from my home state.

“Veronica told me about the financial burdens she’s dealing with—not only student loans, but also child care for her daughter.

“She said ‘I try not to let my daughter see my struggles, but I feel terrible knowing that she is suffering too.’

“I think AnnMarie, Leilani, Veronica—and a lot of other women across the country—deserve to hear more than “no” from Republicans when it comes to legislation that could really make a difference for them and their families.

“In the next few days, Madam President, Republicans will have an opportunity to take a different approach than they have so far this year.

“And I’m calling on the Senate Republican leader to take advantage of it.

“We should be able to debate these important issues.

“Democrats have put solutions on the table—a higher minimum wage, student debt relief, giving women more tools to fight pay discrimination, and more….

“And if Republicans have more to say than ‘no,’ it’s time for them to do the same.

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”