March 27, 2019
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 very much, Madam Speaker.
I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him also for his extraordinary leadership in matters that relate to the education of the American people: employment preparedness, fairness in our workforce, and, of course – today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving us this opportunity on this day of the House of Representatives.
This is a day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad and let us make the most of it. In a very joyous way, it’s a day of celebration.
Thank you, Bobby. Thank you, Bobby Scott, Mr. Chairman, for your great leadership. You have been a supporter of this initiative for a long time. Thank you for making today possible.
It happens on a day when we’re honored to have in the Speaker’s Chair, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a champion to end discrimination in every way in our country, including discrimination in the paycheck. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Today, I rise in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. It reaffirms our nation’s sacred promise that equal pay deserves equal work. I do so in saluting Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Madam Chair, the guardian angel of this legislation, and the godmother of so many initiatives in this House to support progress for America’s working families. The ability to balance work – Congresswoman DeLauro – to balance work and home is a challenge that many families face, men and women alike. But Rosa DeLauro has been a constant, constant champion for America’s working families.
We’re talking today about equality in the paycheck, she’s also been a champion in equal pay – excuse me – for paid sick leave and affordable child care. The list goes on and on. Thank you, guardian angel, godmother, Madam Chair, for making today possible.
I’m very excited about this. It’s historic. And that it should happen at a time when we have over 100 women serving in the House of Representatives – that it should happen in the same Congress that we will also observe the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Amendment to have women have the right to vote: it’s all very historic. It’s all about progress.
That progress on this bill began in this Congress two months ago. House Democrats stood with Lilly Ledbetter on the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, exactly 10 years ago, signing that fair pay bill into law. It was a magnificent achievement.
It too – being led by George Miller, the Chair of the Committee Mr. Scott chairs now – Rosa DeLauro of course played a hand in that. Rosa then introduced the equal pay bill then. We passed it in the House. It didn’t pass the Senate. 60 votes needed in the Senate, but she has persisted and we’re fortunate for that.
We’re grateful to her and to Lilly Ledbetter and the groups. So many outside groups who have worked so hard to mobilize and make this different. Some of them include the American Association of University Women, National Women’s Law Center, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Organization for Women, National Committee for Pay Equity, MomsRising, UltraViolet, Center for Law and Social Policy, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, League of Women Voters, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the list goes on and on. The Anti-Defamation League, the American Psychological Association and many more. Because that outside mobilization will be very important in passing this legislation and turning it into law, into an improvement in the lives of America’s working families.
Now, we’re proud to pass this bill before Equal Pay Day, which is on April 2 next week. That April pay day which symbolizes when women’s wages catch up to a man’s earnings from the previous year. In other words, the first three months of the year, most women are working for free compared to what a man will make in the year – overall year. April 2 is that day – by then we will have already been celebrating for a few days. We pass it, we pass this legislation during Women’s History Month as we serve with a woman Speaker of the House and with more than 100 women in same Congress, as I said before, marking 100 years since women won the right to vote.
So, this is about respect. It’s about respect, my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, respect for women and the work that they do. And if they do equal work, why wouldn’t they get equal pay? Would you, my colleague, like to get less than your colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle? Would you, any of my colleagues on this side of the aisle, like to work for less than our male counterparts? Well, why should women in the rest of the work force be subjected to that discrimination?
Paycheck fairness secures – it’s about respect, it’s about justice for women, finally closing the wage gap that robs women of more than $400,000 dollars over the course of their working lives and for women of color it’s even a bigger difference. This not only has an impact on their pay, it has an impact on their pensions and on their retirement. This is very, very important.
This legislation advances progress for families, because it’s about equal pay for women, it’s about how those – that equality of paycheck affects their families. Ensuring that women can earn the wages they have earned so they can pay for their families’ everyday needs such as rent, groceries, child care, health care, the list goes on. Two thirds of moms are either the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their households in our country.
And this legislation strengthens America, unleashing the full power of women in our economy and upholding the value of fairness. Do you believe in fairness in our democracy?
When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, he celebrated equal pay as a ‘structure basic to democracy’. Equal pay, a structure basic to democracy, enlarging the issue to our great democracy. We’re proud to take this step to fully and finally secure the paycheck fairness that is fundamental to our democracy because it will implement the Equal Pay Act, make it enforceable.
Yet, securing paycheck fairness is only the first step that House Democrats will take. We will continue to unlock the full economic power of women in our workplace with paid sick leave, led by Congresswoman DeLauro, affordable child care, led by Congresswoman DeLauro, as well as a fair wage because we know that in our economy and in our country when women succeed, America succeeds.
I therefore urge a bipartisan vote for this legislation for women to succeed, to have equality in our society as they have equality in their paychecks. I yield back the balance of my time.