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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on Senate Republicans voting to block consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, common-sense legislation to help end to the wage gap, and ensure women are paid fairly for their work.

Despite the fact that the Paycheck Fairness Act is co-sponsored by every Democrat in Congress, and has attained broad, bipartisan support from people across the political spectrum, Republican senators voted against a motion to even debate the bill with a final vote of 49-50 that failed to meet the 60 vote threshold needed to overcome the filibuster.

“Each and every Republican Senator represents a state where about half of the population earns less than they deserve—and yet they cannot get on board with a common-sense bill that will help end the wage gap. That’s completely ridiculous and a total disgrace—and it’s the women that they represent that will have to bear the consequences of their inaction.

“And let’s get one thing straight: the bill that Republicans just blocked is not radical or partisan—it will simply close loopholes that would increase transparency and accountability so workers know whether they’re being paid fairly, and help families and our economy to fully recover from the economic harm of the pandemic. But Senate Republicans won’t even allow us to have a debate on this critical and common-sense bill—despite the fact that nine out of ten women think achieving equal pay is important.”

“Today’s vote is only going to motivate women across the country to fight harder to get this bill done. And I’m one of them.” 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would help end the wage gap by closing loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue, and protect workers from retaliation for discussing their pay. It would limit the use of prior wage history in the hiring process, so that pay discrimination would not follow workers from job to job. It would also increase transparency and accountability so workers know whether they’re being paid fairly—and have the evidence to hold employers accountable if they aren’t.

Earlier today, in speech on the Senate floor, Senator Murray stressed that pay inequity has real consequences for women—highlighting the example that Latina women earn on average almost $30,000 less over the course of just one year, as compared to what white men. She emphasized that the Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step to ensure women, their families, and our economy can fully recover from the pandemic.

Senator Murray’s full floor remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Thank you, M. President.

“It’s been more than half a century since the Equal Pay Act became law, and twelve years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but, women in the United States still on average earn only 82 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and the wage gap is far greater for women of color.

“Because even though the Equal Pay Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Act were critical steps forward—there is clearly still a lot more we need to do.

“Right now, an employer can brush aside reports of pay discrimination by saying things like, “Well, he was a better negotiator” or, “They work in different buildings.”

“I mean—what does that have to do with it?

“And too often, a woman’s history of being paid less means she gets paid less in the future because her past salary can be used to determine her future salary, regardless of what her counterparts are making or her new responsibilities.

“This has real consequences for women and their families.

“Today, four out of ten mothers with children under the age of 18 are their families’ primary or sole breadwinners.

“As families rely more on women’s wages to make ends meet, the gender pay gap has an even greater impact on children.

“For example, over the course of just one year, the wage gap for Latina women averages almost $30,000 less, as compared to what a white man earns.

“We are talking about women losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their working lives.

“This is money that could go to paying the bills, putting food on the table, buying a house, starting a business, saving for retirement, getting an education—and so much more.

“Instead, women struggle with lifelong financial effects, including higher poverty rates as compared to men.

“Women are being shortchanged—plain and simple.

“And this pandemic has only made things worse.

“Millions of women have left the labor force and many have fallen behind, just as caregiving responsibilities have disproportionately fallen on them.

“According to one study, a woman who was earning about $47,000 a year before the pandemic could lose nearly a quarter of a million dollars over her lifetime—assuming she is able to return to work this year.

“The pandemic has set women—and in particular, women of color—back even further and made clear just how urgent it is for us to act.

“Because if women don’t recover from this crisis, our economy won’t either which is why we desperately need to close the wage gap.

“We’ve got a responsibility to finally make sure women are paid fairly for their work so women can build financial security for themselves, their families, and their communities and so our economy—so much of which is driven by women, by the way—can fully recover from this crisis.

“We’ve been fighting for the Paycheck Fairness Act for quite some time—but for those who need a reminder, here’s what it would do.

“It’s very straightforward.

“This bill will close loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue, and protect workers from retaliation for discussing their pay it would limit the use of prior wage history in the hiring process, so that pay discrimination can’t follow workers from job to job.

“And, it would increase transparency and accountability so workers know whether they’re being paid fairly—and so they have the evidence to hold their employers accountable if they aren’t.

“These are common sense steps—that’s why this bill already passed the House with bipartisan support.

“It’s up to the Senate now to get this done because the reality is that each and every Senator represents a state where half of the population earns less than they deserve.

“That’s completely ridiculous.

“And it’s past time we end this injustice.

“So I urge all my colleagues to join me in voting to finally put money women have earned, fair and square, in their pockets where it belongs and take an essential step toward ensuring our economy can build back stronger and fairer from COVID-19.

“There is absolutely nothing controversial about making sure every worker gets paid fairly for their work women have been waiting long enough and they need the Paycheck Fairness Act now more than ever.

“Let’s get this done.

“Thank you M. President.”

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