I applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Closing the gender pay gap is more than just an economic imperative — it’s a moral imperative as well. Twelve years ago, when President Obama and I came into office, the very first law that we enacted was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was, and is, an important tool for helping women seek justice for pay discrimination — but we are still a long way from achieving pay equity in America. In nearly every job — more than 90 percent of occupations — women are still earning less than men. For every dollar the typical man who works full-time full-year earns in America, a woman earns 82 cents. For AAPI women, it’s 87 cents for every dollar a white man earns. For Black women, it’s 63 cents. For Native American women, it’s 60 cents. And for Hispanic women, it’s 55 cents. Those gaps are an affront to our values as a nation — they are unacceptable to me, and they should be unacceptable to every single American.
The Paycheck Fairness Act addresses wage gaps by closing loopholes that have allowed employers to justify gender pay disparities, strengthening provisions for holding employers accountable for systemic pay discrimination, and helping level the playing field for women and people of color by making it easier for workers to challenge pay disparities as a group. It bans the use of salary history in hiring and setting wages — a practice that only perpetuates disparities. And it promotes pay transparency by requiring employers to report pay data and protecting workers from retaliation for discussing their wages with co-workers — critical barriers to equality, given that pay disparities often persist because workers are kept in the dark about the fact that they aren’t being paid fairly.
Equal pay is about justice, fairness, and who we are as a nation — it makes all of us stronger, and it represents what America is truly about. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act is an essential step, but we still have a lot more work to do to ensure that our daughters have all of the same rights and opportunities as our sons. I urge the Senate to act swiftly to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and help us build an economy that rewards the hard work of every American.