Washington. D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in support of two bills to end pay discrimination, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act. Both passed this afternoon with strong Democratic votes. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to thank Chairman George Miller for championing this issue in the committee and on the floor. And I want to salute Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro for being a relentless advocate. Ten years ago, she introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act and had been working on it for a long time. Over the years, our ranks have grown with those who recognize the importance of this legislation.
“I am particularly happy today, my colleagues, because on Tuesday we swore in a new Congress. It was the result of an election where the American people spoke out clearly for change. And in this very first week of this new Congress, the change that we want to make is in the lives of America's families. This legislation hits home. It helps America's working women meet the challenges that their families face economically and it is about ending discrimination.
“So I thank all of our colleagues who have worked so hard over the years to put this forward. We passed it in the House in the last Congress. We passed the Lilly Ledbetter bill, a real tribute to a heroine. She took her story and she is making change for all working women in America. That the Supreme Court would have ruled against her after she had won one court challenge speaks to the need of this legislation.
“So here we are. This is the day. We campaigned all over the country the issue of pay equity and Lilly Ledbetter legislation. It was part of the campaign. This woman from Alabama stood before crowds and talked about her personal experience. It was painful to experience, but yet she used her own situation to make life better for others. I'm sorry that she cannot be here with us today, but I hope she knows how deeply grateful we are to her, because her case showcased the need for this legislation.
“And yet in terms of pay equity, I'm a mother of four daughters and one son, and for all of them this is important legislation. Many colleagues in this House, many women Members of the House, we have fathers of daughters. And those fathers of daughters know that their daughters are capable of doing anything that they set out to do, and the value that is placed on them in the workplace is the same value that is be placed on young men of whatever age.
“And so I really speak from the heart on this in terms of what it means to women in their lives, what it means to women in their homes, what it means to them in the workplace, what it means to them in their role of the economy, and what it means to them in their retirement, because if women are not paid fairly in the course of their work years, it has an impact on their retirement as well.
“Because this has an impact on our entire economy, I want to salute all who have brought us to this day. It's a happy day for our country. And as Speaker of the House, I am pleased that in the first week of the new Congress this is the primary legislation they're putting forward.
“Pay equity, fairness to women in the workplace, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, these are our priorities. I hope that we will have a big, strong vote in Congress today, so the message will go out that this Congress has heard the message of change in the election, that this Congress knows the needs of America's women, that this Congress is prepared to act relevant to the concerns of America's working families.
“I thank all of you for what you do. I urge all of our colleagues to join us in supporting this legislation.”