WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a measure aiming to close the wage gap between men and women.
The sponsors of the Paycheck Fairness Act say it’s designed to pick up where the Equal Pay Act of 1963 left off. It would make it illegal for employers to punish workers who discuss their wages, and would also prohibit employers from relying on salary histories to set wages.
House Democrats hope it will empower women to negotiate for higher pay.
“Men and women who are on the same job deserve the same pay,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, said.
According to DeLauro, women on average make just 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man. That number is even lower for women of color.
“[The bill] puts teeth into the 1963 Pay Equity Act, which says you can not discriminate against women based on sex. That if you decide you’re not going to pay women equal pay, you have to explain why you are doing that,” she added.
DeLauro says the biggest economic challenge people face in their lives is that their jobs simply don’t pay them enough money.
The Conservative Heritage Foundation agrees that pay should be based on a person’s experience and what they contribute to the business, not gender, but member Genevieve Wood says Democrats don’t know what they’re talking about.
“The fact is, women and men in the same positions with the same backgrounds are being paid equal today,” she said.
Among younger workers, women are doing very well, according to Wood.
“If you look at young women and men in about 147 out of 150 major metropolitan cities around the country, young women are actually making more than young men coming out of college and in similar jobs,” she explained. “Women should maybe be careful of what they wish for here.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it faces a much tougher road under Republican control.