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An amendment in a House appropriations bill, which would have funded an initiative to study pay gaps at workplaces, failed on Thursday. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Siding with Trump Against Women, House GOP Rejects Funds for Equal Pay Initiative

"It appears that whenever this Congress has the opportunity to advance gender and racial equality, it chooses instead to say no."

Julia Conley

Following the Trump administration's decision to scrap an Obama-era rule requiring companies to report the wages of employees in order to keep track of pay discrimination, lawmakers on Thursday voted down an amendment that would have saved federal funding to implement a similar initiative. Equal pay advocates say the vote shows the Republican-led Congress's hostility towards efforts to narrow wage gaps.

Two weeks ago, the National Women's Law Center called the Trump administration's decision to cancel the pay data collection program, which was scheduled to go into effect in March 2018, "an all-out attack on equal pay." Under the rule, employers with more than 100 workers would have been required to provide data to the federal government on the compensation of employees of various genders, races, and ethnicities.

While the rule was thrown out, the administration left the door open for the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) to propose a new method of collecting the data. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) led the effort to include the initiative in an appropriations bill, but Thursday's 223-192 vote against the amendment could make this impossible.

"The failed DeLauro-Frankel-Scott amendment would have preserved the EEOC's ability to take meaningful action to eliminate the gender and race pay gaps," said Vania Leveille, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a press release. "Any claims of support for equal pay truly ring hollow in light of this vote."

Leveille's statement continued:

It appears that whenever this Congress has the opportunity to advance gender and racial equality, it chooses instead to say no. We are disappointed that 223 members of the House of Representatives said no to an amendment that would have preserved funding for a critical equal pay initiative that would have lifted the cloak of secrecy shrouding pay decisions in this country.

Without transparency, the pernicious gender and race wage gaps, and the discrimination that causes them, will continue to flourish.

The amendment failed to pass as a class-action lawsuit was filed against Google on behalf of all women employed by the tech giant over the past four years, alleging that the company "segregates" women into lower-paying jobs than their male counterparts' positions.

Last week, the New York Times obtained a spreadsheet detailing Google salaries which employees had taken it upon themselves to compile.

The ACLU argues that government accountability for such disparaties would make fact-finding missions by employees unnecessary in the future.

Had the amendment passed, said Leveille, "The EEOC's data collection would have deterred intentional pay disparities, facilitated employers' good faith efforts to comply with equal pay laws, and identified appropriate targets for federal enforcement of nondiscrimination law."

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