Gender Pay Gap: Can Obama Convince the GOP to Eliminate It?

Discrimination in the workplace has long been an issue in Washington. The gender wage gap was recently going shrinking, but is now getting larger, and that's a problem.

Data released by the Labor Department reveals that women made 80.9% of what men made in 2012. This gap is the widest it has been since 2005, and President Obama addressed the issue in his State of the Union on Tuesday. He will once again have to face an oppositional Congress in the hopes of his agenda coming to fruition. 

In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, Obama made it clear to Congress that more efforts need to be made to eliminate the gap. 

“We know our economy is stronger when our wives, our mothers, our daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women’s Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a — a living equal to their efforts and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year,” the president urged Congress.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) has not had a successful legislative history, however. In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked the bill from being signed into law. Now Obama will have to revisit the rivaling GOP in order to get this legislation passed. Obama passed a similar legislation during his first days in office, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Based on societal trends, it appears that employers turn a blind eye to wage discrimination. The sad reality is that this issue is still prevalent. I now share Obama’s sentiments and urge Congress to take more constructive action on this legislation. Companies have marketed as “equal opportunity employers” but scratch beneath the surface and you will find the same unjust actions of wage discrimination that have been addressed before.

The bill calls to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. If passed, the legislation would mandate all forms of discrimination in the workplace to be abolished, and for employers to provide evidence that wage discrepancies are not gender- related. PFA was reintroduced to Congress on January 23, 2012.

It is in the early stages of the legislative process, but with Obama’s faith, hopefully the Senate GOP will have a change of heart and vote. It is bizarrely unfathomable that the Senate Republicans, including a handful of women, would reject this type of legislation. Based on Obama’s State of the Union however, it appears that he will not go down without a fight.