Obama Courts Female Voters With Fair Pay Bill

The Senate votes Tuesday on the Paycheck Fairness Bill. The legislation is supposed to make it easier for employees to challenge pay discrimination. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, but if it does, it probably will die in the Republican-controlled House.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the Senate votes today on legislation aimed at shrinking the pay gap between men and women. It's called the Paycheck Fairness Act.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports President Obama is using the bill as a tool in the 2012 campaign.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: As President Obama often reminds audiences on the campaign trail, the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It's a law Romney says he would leave in place as president. This bill is a sort of bookend. In a conference call with supporters, the president pressured senators to vote yes.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: 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.

SHAPIRO: Women still earn only about 77 cents compared to every dollar that men make. This bill would let workers talk to each other about their salaries and prohibit employer retaliation. It would also make it easier for workers to bring class action lawsuits.

Dana Britton directs the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. She says Democrats have favored this bill for a long time, so the timing of today's vote may have as much to do with politics as policy.

DANA BRITTON: It certainly gets played out in the context of this war on women, right? And so Republicans are being asked to vote no on something called the Fair Pay Act.

SHAPIRO: The bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate today. It's unlikely to clear that bar, but even if it does, it's likely to die in the Republican-controlled House.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: