Congress

House to vote on equal pay, VAWA, net neutrality bills, in next 3 weeks

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the upcoming votes in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Monday

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced the major bills the House will consider over the next three-week work period in a dear colleague letter Monday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will vote over the next three weeks on bills to help reduce the gender pay gap, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and codify the Obama-era net neutrality rule.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the votes in a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday outlining plans for the three-week House work period beginning March 25.

“We will also take up and vote on the war powers resolution passed by the Senate that would require U.S. forces to end involvement in hostilities in Yemen,” the Maryland Democrat said. “I look forward to having the House pass these critical bills, and we will urge the Senate to act and send them to the President for his signature.”

First up is the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the House will vote on the week of March 25.

The bill, HR 7, would aim to provide equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by providing remedies for employees who face gender discrimination.

The bill should pass easily, with 238 Democrats already signed on as co-sponsors. New Jersey Rep. Christopher H. Smith is the only Republican co-sponsor.

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro has been introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act since 1997. It received a House vote in each of the last two Congresses that Democrats held the majority.

In 2008, it passed 247-178, with 14 Republicans supporting it. And in 2010, it passed 256-163, with 10 Republicans backing it. Of the Republicans who voted “yes” both years, only Smith and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are still in Congress. 

The House will also vote next week on overriding President Donald Trump’s veto of a resolution to terminate the national emergency declaration for the border. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already announced after Trump’s veto that the House would consider an override March 26.

The override is expected to fail because there are not enough Republicans who want to terminate the national emergency to reach the required two-thirds threshold.

During the week of April 1, the House will take up the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, which the Judiciary Committee approved last week. The bill, sponsored by California Democrat Karen Bass and Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, would reauthorize and expand the landmark domestic violence law first enacted in 1994.

The protections and programs under VAWA lapsed after an extension was not included in the fiscal 2019 spending deal struck last month. Speaker Nancy Pelosi felt agreeing to a short-term extension would reduce the incentive for the Senate to negotiate with the House on a broader reauthorization of VAWA.

The House bill includes updates to law enforcement grants and health care provisions. It would also increase penalties for cyberstalking, and require federal law enforcement to regularly evaluate and update practices to combat online harassment and cyberbullying.

The last week of work before the two-week Easter recess starts April 8, and the House floor schedule that week will feature the Save the Internet Act of 2019.

The bill, sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle and cosponsored by 144 Democrats, would codify the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule that was implemented during the Obama administration and repealed by the Trump administration. 

The Senate is unlikely to take up any of these bills as written. But the upper chamber will need to consider some measure to reauthorize the expired VAWA program, if only to enter formal negotiations with the House.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

Also Watch: Violence Against Women Act witness: Title IX is moot ‘because men can be women’

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