Floor Speech in Support of H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act
Apr 15, 2021
Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I particularly thank him for his leadership in bringing this important legislation to the Floor of the House. This is about Building Back Better with women, with women – not stifling innovation and entrepreneurship, but reaping the benefits of all that women have to offer in our country.
Nearly – Mr. Speaker, nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, lauding it, and this is his quote, ‘A measure that adds to our laws, another structure basic to democracy.’ Today, I rise in support of a similarly momentous measure for our democracy, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will strengthen that law and reaffirm this pledge: equal work deserves equal pay.
We all salute Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, the guardian angel of this legislation and so much of what Democrats work for on behalf of women and families. Chairwoman DeLauro is relentless, introducing this bill in each of the last thirteen Congresses and securing bipartisan support and the support of the entire House Democratic Caucus. And now, because of her leadership, we have a chance for it to become law.
Many of us, with Chair DeLauro at the helm, helped lead the charge for equal pay for many years now. Twelve years ago, House Democrats passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to protect women's right to challenge unfair pay in the courts. We are proud that President Obama made this bill the first bill that he signed into law. You talked about it earlier, Mr. Chairman. Exactly ten years later, when Democrats retook the majority, we were honored to stand with Lilly Ledbetter, that courageous woman, as we took another step forward for equal – for pay equity by again introducing Congresswoman DeLauro's bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act.
And today in the House, Congress, led by over 120 women in the House, with an Administration led by President Biden, a long-term champion of women, and the first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, and with a record number of women in the Cabinet – those are great advances for women – we will pass this landmark bill once more, send it to the Senate and then hopefully to President Biden to sign into law.
Okay, so I'm a mother of four daughters. I don't know anybody who has a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother who can say to them, ‘You're not worth it. Your time is not worth the time of your brother, your father, your whoever else.’ What father, brother or son would not want the women in their lives to have equal pay?
Sadly, equal pay is not yet a reality in America. Nearly six decades after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women working full time year-round are paid only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. And for women of color, the disparity is even greater. It's almost sinful – 63 cents for Black women. Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Alaskan native, 60 cents. Latinas making just 55 cents for every dollar for the same [work] as men.
Equal work, equal hours, equal effort, but not equal pay. And this is not just about cents on the dollar. This pay gap can add up to about $400,000 in lost wages over a career. And what does that mean to a woman's pension?
At the same time, the need for action has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has worsened economic disparities to women. Last year, women lost a net 4.5 million jobs during the recession, with losses disproportionately experienced by women of color. This unjust, uneven toll on women is expected to widen the wage gap by up to five percentage – widen the gap by five percentage points, even as the recovery recovers – the economy recovers.
As the House passes this landmark legislation, let us stand proudly, unapologetically for what this does for the economy of our country. We continue to work to advance progress for women and families, with strong support of President Biden. The House Democrats were proud to pass and send to the Senate our bipartisan VAWA re-authorization, led by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, removing the arbitrary deadline of ERA ratification led by Congresswoman Jackie Speier and to have enacted the American Rescue Act, which is helping many women to return to the workforce.
And we will continue this drumbeat of action, ensuring that the Senate passes the Paycheck Fairness Act and advancing legislation to strengthen women's access to child care, health care, workplace safety and more. And as we move forward to Build Back Better, President Biden's alliterative phrase for how we have job creation in our country, we can only Build Back Better if women are central to that effort, advancing an economy in a country that works for all of the people in America – very important to America's families and America's children.
And with, that I urge a strong and hopefully bipartisan vote on H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. Fairness is an all-American quality. Fairness for women is essential, because we know that when women succeed, America succeeds.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. I thank Congresswoman DeLauro and Mr. Chairman Scott for their leadership.