With so much attention focused on the highly anticipated Mueller Report last week, many people missed an important victory to strengthen families in Indiana and across America.
On March 27, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act by a vote of 242-187, which helps close the pay gap.
The bill, which has been introduced in multiple sessions of Congress stretching back to the 1990s, really packs a punch: It gives the Department of Labor better tools to enforce equal pay laws, gives women more power to challenge pay discrimination in the workplace, bans retaliation against workers who discuss their wages and more.
In short, it helps to empower women in the workplace by shattering the barriers that keep them down.
These reforms are desperately needed. Despite the impressive gains women have made in the fight to achieve greater rights and opportunities, too many are still not compensated fairly compared to the men they work alongside. This often results in less pay for the same job, and that’s profoundly unjust.
This pay gap was recognized April 2, on Equal Pay Day. Each year, a typical woman would need to work several additional months just to make as much as a comparably employed man made the previous year. Numerically, that means she brings home only 80 cents to every dollar he earns — or that her work is worth 20 percent less than his. Equal Pay Day represents this extra work — that missing 20 percent.
And for women of color, this divide is even more pronounced.
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day falls well into the summer, on Aug. 22, showing how far this group must work into the year to achieve parity with white men.
It gets worse — Latina Equal Pay won’t be observed until Nov. 20, a startling difference of nearly two to one compared to white men.
This isn’t just a gap, it’s a chasm that’s harming millions and holding our country back. We must act quickly to bridge the divide, which is why I proudly cast my vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act last week, and I urged my colleagues to do the same in a speech on the House floor.
I’m incredibly pleased we were able to pass it with bipartisan support, representing one of the biggest steps Congress has made in years to close the pay gap.
Now the bill moves to the Senate, where I hope my colleagues there will also choose to take up this critical priority. Ensuring women earn what they’re due doesn’t only empower them, it will empower entire families by growing their incomes, lifting more families out of poverty and jump starting our economy in the process.
I think most importantly, it will show the young women and girls across America — like my daughter — that their skills, intelligence and work ethic are fully valued in our society. And when they get that first job, they can head to work every day secure in the knowledge that they’ll not only receive a fair wage, they’ll be seen as an equal.
Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.