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Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a "war on women ," with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as "pawns" to score political points.  

Republican leaders wouldn't say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they'd bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats' "Equal Pay Day" criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman.  "Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let's start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life," said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. "Let's focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities ... for a better life we all want." "Many ladies that I know feel they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending that Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the barriers of their economic policies," added Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.  

House Republicans have indicated they won't take up the Senate's "Paycheck Fairness Act," but not, they say, because they don't support its goals.  

"Republicans support equal pay for equal work," Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., reiterated to reporters on Tuesday.  

"I've seen the news this morning. It seems the White House is having a little problem on this themselves," Cantor went on, taking a jab at the president over recent revelations that female staffers in the Obama administration make on average 88 cents for every dollar earned by male counterparts. "You know, I think it demonstrates once again, it's probably better for us to sit down and see that the law is being properly implemented rather than play politics with it."  

Cantor also said that House Republicans have a legislative record to show that they care about helping women succeed in the workplace. It's the Senate Democrats, they argue, who are actually obstructing opportunities for women by refusing to take up a number of bills the House GOP has passed, most recently legislation to redefine a full-time workweek as one with 40 hours instead of 30.  

"If the Senate Democrats would pick [it] up, we could help women right now," Cantor fired back. "There are things we can do to help women in the workplace."  

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee sent out a joint statement on Tuesday morning with their own line of attack.  

"The 'Paycheck Fairness Act' doesn't provide paycheck fairness for women," the statement reads. "In fact, it will cut out flexibility in the workplace for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work — the very things that are important to us."  

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., thinks the GOP rhetoric won't work: "If this Republican Congress continues to block paycheck fairness, they will pay the price in November."