Feminist Legislation Held Up in Congress

As Congress returns, much feminist legislation is still pending. Among the bills that remain is the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a measure to correct the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. which gutted Title VII pay discrimination protections for women workers. The companion bill has already passed the House and the Senate has scheduled a hearing on its bill for January 24 despite the threat of a Republican filibuster when the bill reaches the floor.

Another bill that addresses pay discrimination, The Paycheck Fairness Act, has stalled in both the House and Senate. Two committee hearings on the measure have been held in the House where a total of 226 members have signed on as co-sponsors. The Senate bill has 22 co-sponsors where it is stalled in committee.

Domestic and global reproductive health issues are also on the list of measures before the returning Congress. Congress failed to address the skyrocketing cost of birth control on college campuses and in clinics for low income women that was caused by a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act. While there was an attempt to repeal the Global Gag Rule in the closing days of the first session by including language from the Global Democracy Promotion Act in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, it was deleted before final passage. Prevention First, which expands access to preventive health care to reduce unintended pregnancies is also stalled in both houses.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act overwhelming passed the House but its companion bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate. Advocates are looking to this legislation to improve current laws by increasing protections for victims of trafficking and increasing prosecutions of traffickers.

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