Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 2, 2014

Fischer Takes GOP Lead in Pay Equity Debate

fischer 080 040814 445x300 Fischer Takes GOP Lead in Pay Equity Debate

Fischer co-authored the GOP’s alternative pay equity bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., likes to tell a story about when she was first elected to the state legislature and a reporter asked if she would focus on women’s issues.

“And I said, ‘Tell me what a women’s issue is,’” Fischer said.

After serving in Nebraska’s unicameral Legislature for eight years, she takes the same approach in the Senate, to which she was elected in 2012.

In a hallway interview Wednesday, she argued that women’s issues are no different from anyone else’s and include creating a strong economy, jobs, building infrastructure and ensuring national security.

“Women want the same thing that men want, so I don’t like being slotted in what’s perceived as a women’s issue because I think women’s issues are the same important issues that everybody in this country is trying to address,” she said.

Her comments come after she helped lead Republican opposition to the Democratic pay equity bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.

The vote failed, 53-44, with all Democrats voting in favor of advancing the bill with the exception of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who voted “no” on procedural grounds. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted with Republicans to filibuster the measure. Three Republicans did not vote.

Fischer helped lead the filibuster after Democrats refused to grant her a vote on her alternative, which had the blessing of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“I spoke with Sen. McConnell and told him what my office was working on; I reached out to him,” Fischer said. “Sometimes something pops up that you think you can offer a solution to that’s been overlooked and I think that’s what we did here.”

The other Republican women signed on to Fischer’s bill as well — Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Murkowski, who has long worked on the pay equity issue, said Fischer worked to get input from members.

“She was [also] trying very hard to help educate some folks in our conference in terms of the messaging,” Murkowski said. “To suggest that pay inequities don’t exist is not what we should be saying because they do. Let’s be honest about it and try to come up with some proposals that are rational, instead of saying, ‘No problem here.’ ”

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Fischer argued that the GOP alternative should get a vote, but Democrats objected to her request, as they did to similar overtures for votes on other Republican amendments.

Also raising the profile of the junior senator from Nebraska was her appearance with McConnell at his weekly question-and-answer session with the press.

The GOP bill would have addressed concerns Republicans had with the Democratic measure, which they charged would lead to negative effects on merit pay, rigid pay scales and costly litigation — while still prohibiting retaliation against workers for inquiring about salaries of their co-workers or disclosing them.

Democrats have sought to frame the debate as Republicans being out of touch with women and plan to revisit the bill ahead of the the November elections.

“The fight is not over,” Reid said at a press conference. “This is not going to be the last opportunity for them to vote for this or to vote against it.”

But Fischer dismissed that narrative and argued Republicans have a strong case to make.

“Yes, we acknowledge there is some discrimination out there, it still happens,” Fischer said. “We have laws that address it. Enforce the laws that address it. And then we need to create jobs, we need to make sure that people have opportunity.”

Fischer lamented that the Senate did not consider the Republican amendments, which she said hurts the minority’s ability to represent their constituents.

“I was sent here to do a job and we aren’t allowed to do our job, which is to represent not just the people of our state, but the people of this country,” Fischer said. “We should be debating. And standing up there and talking is not debating. A debate concludes by a vote and we aren’t allowed to do that here, so that’s very, very disappointing.”

Reid said he remains open to Republican amendments that are germane and constructive, but said Republicans have to agree to start the debate first.

The vote also came after a dinner Tuesday evening, held every few months by the women of the Senate.

Asked if it was awkward given that the issue resonates with them all and that they are opposed on ways of addressing the matter, Fischer said, “Not at all.”

“We have different views, we come from places, and we hold different principles,” Fischer said, adding the pay equity issue didn’t come up.

She noted the practice is not to talk politics.

“I don’t do that,” Fischer said. “Sometimes things are said and then people realize that they shouldn’t have said it. But … I think I can get along and work with any of my colleagues here.”

Mikulski agreed.

“Many of us agree on the same goals, but we disagree on methods,” she said.

  • MaleMatters

    Here’s what Obama and the Democrats don’t want anyone to know about women, men, and the wage gap:

    In general, women not only live longer and enjoy better health than men, who die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death, they also control most of consumer spending and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    “Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband.” -http://www.she-conomy.com/facts-on-women

    Sound like an oppressed group in need of yet another equal pay law?

    I suspect that many if not most of women’s advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here’s one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm

    A thousand laws won’t close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (political intentions disguised as good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes they make things worse)…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working outside the home if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: “Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing” http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cwgbaueysnsn/rss2/.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages

    -refuse overtime and promotions

    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)

    -take more unpaid days off

    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    “The more alarming wage gap might be the one between mothers and childless women: One recent paper (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/07/146522483/the-wage-gap-between-moms-other-working-women) found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them.” So why do organized feminists and the liberal media focus only on — and criticize — the wage gap between men and women? http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/the-mommy-track-myth/283557/

    More in “Does the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    See also:

    “Feminists don’t want you to know how women help create the wage gap: Women ‘want rich husbands, not careers’” http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/what-feminists-dont-want-you-to-know-women-want-rich-husbands-not-careers/

    Excerpt:

    “By the late 1990s, the proportion of women who were ‘marrying up’ had almost doubled to 38 percent. Similar patterns are seen across much of Europe, the US and Australia. Hakim said many women did not want to admit that they were looking for a higher earning partner. They even keep the fact secret from the men they are dating, Catherine Hakim said.”

    Government study, U.S. Dept of Labor study: An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20Final%20Report.pdf

  • Water Dude

    Since judging merit requires certain people to judge the efforts of others, the objective utility of any results delivered is irrelevant.

  • Five Guyz

    As central governments become more intoxicated with their own vanity, they undertake more fool’s errands in the name of this or that superstition du jour conjured up to justify their actions.

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