Tennessee’s Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn emerged this weekend as a leading conservative voice against equal pay laws, arguing that policymakers should leave the job of closing the gender pay gap to private companies.
“You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female. I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want,” Blackburn said in an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press roundtable discussion.
Yet Blackburn’s vision relies on companies to regulate themselves, a scenario that hasn’t closed the gender pay gap. Women are, generally, still paid less than their male colleagues.
A report released in 2013 by the National Women’s Law Center found that women make 77 cents for every dollar made by their male colleagues, equating to a median loss of $11,084 per year.
For African-American and Hispanic women, the figures are even more stark. On average, an African-American woman makes 64 cents for each dollar made by her typical white male counterpart. Hispanic women make 55 cents to the dollar.
Those who caught wind of Blackburn’s Sunday comments stormed her Facebook wall, criticizing the congresswoman for failing to reflect the attitude of working American women.
“Why in the world would you think women don’t want equal pay? I worked my tail off for 25 years in high tech — and never once did I earn the same pay as my male counterparts, even when I worked longer hours produced more results, and TAUGHT the newly hired men how to do their jobs,” wrote Janet Christian. “Why would you even for a minute think I didn’t deserve equal pay?”
Other users called her out for speaking about an issue from which the congresswoman is far removed.
“So Ms. Blackburn, do you work for less money than your male counterparts in Congress? I think not, but you think that other women should?” wrote Verda Mosier.
Blackburn’s comments may have angered those with opposing views, but her stance is nothing new.
In 2009, Blackburn voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama, ushering in a new platform for women to file wage discrimination lawsuits against employers.
That same year, Blackburn opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have updated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to bar employers from paying men and women in the same position unequally.
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