PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Chair, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut for her decades of leadership fighting for working women.
In 1963, the Equal Pay Act codified the right to ``equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.'' In fact, the Equal Pay Act was enacted 1 year prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that, for the first time, provided for the enforcement of antidiscrimination laws. Over the past 55 years, the Equal Pay Act, in combination with title VII of the Civil Rights Act, has produced substantial progress toward addressing inequities for women in the workplace.
Yet, loopholes and insufficient enforcement have allowed gender-based wage discrimination to persist. Today, women earn, on average, 80 cents on the dollar compared to White men in similar jobs. The wage gap is even worse for women of color. It exists in every sector, regardless of education, experience, occupation, industry, or job title.
Drawn out over a lifetime, the persistent wage gap could cost a woman anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million. For many, this is the difference between financial stability and poverty. In fact, we know that achieving pay equity would actually cut the poverty rate for working women more than 50 percent.
That is why we are considering this historic legislation today. After decades of failing to address persistent wage inequity, the Paycheck Fairness Act is our opportunity to strengthen the Equal Pay Act, bolster the rights of working women, lift families out of poverty, and, finally, align our remedies for gender discrimination with other established antidiscrimination laws by eliminating caps on damages when employers act with malice or reckless indifference, consistent with the laws governing discrimination based on race or national origin, treating attorney fees consistent with title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and restricting an employer's inquiry and reliance on a prospective employee's previous salary. This is consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and similar restrictions regarding an applicant's marital or pregnancy status.
As chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, I urge my colleagues to join me in casting a vote for final passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and making equal pay for equal work a reality for working women across this country.
Madam Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.