In a straight party-line vote, the House Committee on Education and Labor voted on Tuesday to send the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the House floor for a vote. The purpose of the Act, which was introduced by Committee Chair George Miller (D-CA), would be to correct the recent Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.. In its decision, the Supreme Court greatly limited the ability of many workers to sue for wage discrimination by requiring that discrimination charges must be filed within 180 days of each discriminatory act. In his statement before the Committee, Rep. Miller stated that the Supreme Court “satisfied its narrow ideological agenda,” and that members of Congress “must not allow this ruling to stand.”
In a heated debate, several Republicans objected to the bill on the grounds of content and process. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) attacked the bill, saying it was a major rewriting of civil rights law and that it will “destroy American jobs.” In response, Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) explained that the legislation simply reestablishes accepted practices and rules that were in existence before the Supreme Court’s May ruling in Ledbetter.
The Committee session was split along partisan lines, with House Republicans voting for various amendments and against the Act itself. Democrats unanimously supported the bill, conveying Representative Phil Hare’s (D-MN) opinion that the bill is “an excellent start on correcting an injustice and that’s what we’re about.” Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), a champion of women’s employment rights and achieving a balance between work and family, added, “I hope we make headlines today for taking steps to right a wrong.”