Brand New Messaging, Same Old Party: GOP Senators Vote on Equal Pay

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Despite recent polling, which found that Republicans must support equal pay policies (among other things) in order to have a prayer of securing female voters outside the married-and-without-a-college-degree set, Republicans on Capitol Hill have voted unanimously to block equal pay legislation. But, I guess no one told their social media department, because on Labor Day the RNC had this to add to the conversation:


Many Twitter users saw the writing on the wall, such as @egbee, who responded, “But making it the law of the land and enforcing that law, not so much.” Not so much, indeed, Think Progress reports.

The bill in question is the Paycheck Fairness act which seeks to reduce the gender wage gap through mechanisms that have been found to correlate with improvements in the disparity between men’s and women’s wages. For example, the bill would ban salary secrecy, a practice that keeps employees from disclosing their wages to each other and, therefore, makes a gender wage gap harder to identify at any given workplace. Certainly, as Republicans are quick to point out, there are laws in place that have created a process for addressing wage inequality based on gender – but without a ban on salary secrecy, the most important piece (figuring out you’re being discriminated against) is basically impossible. Republicans want women to feel reassured by the existing laws, while still looking out for big business by making sure those laws are as ineffective as possible.

The Paycheck Fairness Act similarly attempts to address the problems associated with pursuing the current remedies to the gender wage gap by making it harder for companies to justify existing wage gaps within their pay structure. Think Progress explains:

    The Paycheck Fairness Act would also narrow the definitions of what is considered a legitimate business-related justification for pay disparities between a man and a woman with the same skills, responsibilities, and working conditions, while increasing penalties for those who are found to have no reason for gaps. It’s meant to discourage unequal pay scales so that women don’t have to remedy situations by bringing lawsuits, which are time consuming, costly, and increasingly difficult to win.

Just so we’re clear – Republicans, who like to say they support equal pay, just voted down a bill that makes it easier for women to spot wage inequality and harder for employers to justify it. GOP lawmakers are speaking out of both sides of their mouths, and it isn’t just a disconnect between social media and current officeholders.

For two years, the RNC has been wringing it’s hands about messaging to women. The GOP knows that it cannot win without women voters, and they keep coming back to the same question: How can Republicans win with women? Each time, they try to frame it as a new question, despite the fact that they already know the answers. The party has the polling data to prove that they must change their stance on equal pay to improve their standing with this important demographic. So what’s with the no vote?

In the end, there is no amount of polling that can move this tone-deaf party into the 20th century with women voters, let alone the 21st. Republicans know that they must embrace a paradigm shift on issues like this, but they continue to act as if women voters can’t tell the difference between a tweet “supporting” equal pay and a platform that follows through. Until they start taking their lady problem as seriously as ladies take politics, the Grand Old Party will be playing the same old game, and seeing the same old result.


About Author

Genevieve Cato

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, serving as a community member of the Communications Committee for the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.

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