President Obama considers equal pay for men and women an important way to strengthen the middle class, and believes that it’s important for Congress to pass such a measure in this economy.
On a call with reporters and advocates today, Obama encouraged Congress to consider the middle class when voting on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would help a woman fight for equal pay.
Currently, women on average make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. The Paycheck Fairness Act would create more transparency in pay scales, and protect women who sue because they’re being paid unfairly. Not supporting equal pay protection isn’t just a war on women, the President argued, it’s a war on the middle class:
OBAMA: At a time when we’re at a make or break moment for the middle class, Congress has to step up and do its job. If congress passes the paycheck fairness act, women are going to have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work. If they don’t, if congress doesn’t act, then women are still going to have difficulty enforcing and pressing for this basic principle. We’ve got to understand this is more than just about fairness. Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they’re making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by with less money for childcare, tuition, and rent. Small businesses have fewer customers. Everybody suffers.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is due for a vote in the Senate tomorrow, and Republicans have already expressed dislike for the pay equity legislation. They claim that it creates too many bureaucratic regulations and is unneeded legislation that will only help trial lawyers. The same bill failed in the Senate once before; though it had the support of 58 senators, there were not enough votes to prevent a filibuster.