House Democrats on Thursday passed legislation they say would close the pay gap between men and women in the workplace.
The legislation passed on a mostly party-line vote of 217-210. The bill, which is supported by President Biden, faces stiff opposition in the Senate where it has little chance at getting the Republican votes it needs to pass.
“Sadly, equal pay is not yet a reality in America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “It’s almost sinful.”
The bill would make it easier to sue employers over pay discrimination and would ban employers from prohibiting employees from discussing their salaries.
Republicans say laws against pay discrimination already exist and this bill is just a boon to trial lawyers looking to sue companies.
“Wage discrimination has no place in any society,” said GOP Rep. Michael Burgess, but he doesn’t think this bill is the way to make changes.
“The path Congress must take is to not increase opportunities for trial lawyers, but to continue its focus on strong economic policy that actually expands opportunities for all Americans,” Burgess said.
White women make 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. Black women make 63 cents for every dollar earned by a White male and Latin women make even less.
Many businesses have come out against the bill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued in a letter opposing the bill that there are often legitimate reasons for differences in pay between men and women.