Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Ahead of Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, Chairwoman Patty Murray, Chairman Bobby Scott, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Congresswoman Norma Torres and Congresswoman Deborah Ross for a press conference ahead of the passage of H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. This critical legislation strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, helps eliminate the gender wage gap and guarantees that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Representative Ross, for spelling out very clearly the challenge that this has been legislatively at the state and – we know – at the national level up until now. Thank you for quantifying what it means in terms of dollars and cents, as others have done this afternoon on the Floor and here now.
Thank you to all of you for translating what that difference means in the lives of America's families. As Congresswoman Torres said, what a mom could do for her children – what a mom, a mother, a wife could do for the family and what it means in terms of pension.
So, I'm here to say thank you. Thank you to Rosa DeLauro. I call her the guardian angel of women and families on all of the legislation she has put forth. How many Congresses? Thirteen?
Chair DeLauro. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. Thirteen Congresses – for thirteen Congresses she has put this bill forth. So, she is persistent. And that's what it takes.
And to our distinguished chair of the HELP Committee, coming over from the Senate, who gives us hope that this can become the law. Thank you for your tremendous leadership, Patty Murray, in so many ways.
Bobby Scott, now you know what it usually feels like for us to be the only woman in the room.
Bobby is our champion in so many ways.
You didn’t wear your pink hat. Bobby Scott has just been remarkable over the years on this subject and many others, subjects that relate to the wellbeing of America's working families and women. And I always say when talking about Bobby Scott – about something that Congresswoman Torres said, when she put on her green AFSCME shirt. He has worked very closely with fairness in the workplace for women and for workers.
I want to salute the labor movement in our country because they have done more for fairness, paycheck fairness, than any institution you can name because women in the labor workforce are much more on a par.
And Alma Adams – this week is a Black [Maternal] Mortality Week, and she has been, every single day, guiding our thinking and our values in a stronger way as to the challenge that is still there. But just one of another of the aspects of America's families that she has been a leader on – and how beautifully she spoke about what it means for women to have equal pay. Thank you, Alma Adams, for your leadership.
Norma Torres, she's had a lot of jobs. And when she talks about – one time she talked, she said, ‘I used to be – get the 911 call.’ No matter what the subject is, she's been there. She's worked jobs along the way, because when she started, I said, ‘Oh 911? Oh, no, no. She was selling pipe fitting.’ Anyway, she knows of what she speaks. She's had to work and compete in many arenas, and then to be a state senator in California and bring her leadership to the to the Congress on this very important subject, speaking from her own experience, and so beautifully, about what it means to families and choices that moms have to make.
And then to hear Congresswoman Ross, a Freshman Member, bringing her experience in the state legislature of North Carolina to the Congress. She understands the challenges that women face, and she understands, legislatively, the challenge that we have faced to get this legislation passed – already effective from the start on many issues, including of Paycheck Fairness. Thank you, Congresswoman Ross.
Well, I just want to say thank you to all of you, on behalf of my four daughters and my son – and my son – for what you are doing for women, for my granddaughters and for my grandsons. Because this fairness issue is not just for what it does for women; it's what it does for families. Boys and girls, as you said Alma. You said little boys and little girls, in your comment, benefit from all of this.
Fairness, as I said on the Floor, is an American value. It’s an American trait. It's something we all agree on – fairness. Why wouldn't we have fairness for our sisters, our moms, our daughters, our wives – if your husband, whatever it is – that they should be valued and not be exploited in the workplace. Because this is an exploitation in the workforce, place – if you're paying somebody less than the value of their work, as valued by someone who's a man that they're working with.
So, this is, again, it's part of so many things that we've been talking about this month and the last few weeks in terms of the Violence Against Women Act, the ERA, the [American] Rescue Plan, which has a strong component of child care and the rest – the recognition that women are so much a part of our society, of course, but of our economy.
And in this Congress, I'd like to see some of our Republican women colleagues on the other side of the aisle say, ‘I'll take 82 percent of what the salary is of our male counterparts in the Congress.’ I don't see anybody stepping up to do that, if they think that that's okay for other, for other women.
But it all comes down to what it means for children, what it means for families, what it means for seniors, what it means to our country, but also what it means to our economy. Because I do believe that when women succeed, America succeeds. So, I thank all of you for your leadership to help women succeed and America succeed.
Thank you, Rosa.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Questions? Yes. Go ahead.
Q: Senator Murray, if we – we very rarely have a chance to ask Senator a question like this, at a press conference like this. Handicap the real prospects of this making it through the Senate. Are there ten Republicans who would support a bill like this? And who are you talking to try and secure them?
Senator Murray. Well, that is a really important question. The first answer is the House has passed this bill today. Not just with Democrats, but with Republicans. And that's the message we're now going to start taking to all of our colleagues in the Senate. The Democrats all support us. And to talk to them about what you heard today.
They – the women should want equal pay for themselves and for their constituents. The men should want equal pay for their daughters and their granddaughters and their grandsons and their sons, because that's how their families survive. So we will take this victory today from the House and take it over to the Senate and begin to work Republican Senators one at a time.
As I said in my remarks, every one of those Republicans represent a state where half of their populations are not getting – don't have access to equal pay. And they should be fighting with us to make sure that that happens.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Yes, go ahead.
Q: Chairwoman DeLauro, I actually wanted to ask if you might be able to talk a little bit about the timeline for the appropriations process and the funding bills. I know that's also a really important thing that's going on right now.
Chairwoman DeLauro. So why don't we come back to that if we can. If there are questions that have to do with the subject of the day?
Q: Yes. My question was on these business groups and they sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi earlier this week, sort of opposed to the Paycheck Fairness Act, citing it could threaten bonuses and negotiations – what your responses were to that.
Speaker Pelosi. You’re mistaking me for someone else. Perhaps it's the mask. You said I threatened –
Q: No, no, no.
Chairwoman DeLauro. No, no. The businesses have threatened. Threatened.
Q: Business groups have threatened.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, the businesses have threatened.
Chairwoman DeLauro. And the Speaker will also reply, but if you keep in mind that business groups have been opposed to minimum wage. They were, you know, just the business people have talked about how the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was going to be, you know, raise all this litigation. Untrue.
There was a gentleman on the Floor today who talked about bonuses. This is – where? When it comes up the Christmas bonuses were at risk. It's a lie. They're not at risk. The Christmas bonuses are not at risk.
Chairman Scott. You can't give all the men bonuses and not the women. They’re discriminatory bonuses.
Chairwoman DeLauro. I don’t know, Madam Speaker, if you –
Speaker Pelosi. No, I yield to you.
Chairwoman DeLauro. You're getting the letters.
Speaker Pelosi. I associate myself with your remarks. I think we’re all set.
Chairwoman DeLauro. You know. So –
Q: And I apologize for the mask-induced mix-up. I apologize.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. Also, I thought you said – referenced that – anyway.
You're still there from this morning?
Q: I’m sorry?
Speaker Pelosi. Did you move? You’re still there from this morning?
Q: No I just like sit here so no one else can, ever.
Chairwoman DeLauro. But we've had all kinds of letters. And everyone who spoke today on the Floor introduced a letter. You know, I introduced one with hundreds of organizations who are involved in economic opportunity for women who are in support of the of this effort. Most of all, the women of the United States and their families are supportive of the legislation.
Congresswoman Adams. The voters. We vote.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Alright, thank you all.