U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is joining President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats in an election-year push to bridge the pay gap between men and women.
Speaking on the Senate Floor Tuesday, Durbin called on his Republican colleagues to help pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“It says that women cannot be discriminated in the workplace simply because they are women,” he said.
The bill amends the Equal Pay Act to provide women the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are available for people subjected to race or national origin discrimination. It would also prohibit retaliation against workers who disclose their wage and adds programs for training, research, technical assistance in reducing gender discrimination in the workplace.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, American women earn on average 33 percent less than their male counterparts in the workplace. According to Durbin, the average yearly gap in earnings between Illinois men and women is $11,596.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on the measure Tuesday. The bill needs 60 “yes” votes to move forward, but with only 55 Democrats in the chamber, Durbin said he needs help from across the aisle.
“I’m just hoping five — just five Republicans — will step up on behalf of working women across America and join us on this Paycheck Fairness Act,” Durbin said.
“Without them, this idea will die for now, but it is not going to die forever.”
President Obama signed an executive order Tuesday prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. He also directed the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender.