AAUW Celebrates Passage of LegislationAugust 01, 2008
AAUW celebrates the passage of two critical pieces of legislation Thursday:
Paycheck Fairness Act
The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1338) by a vote of 247-178. If signed into law, the measure would strengthen and update the Equal Pay Act — passed 45 years ago — and would provide critical tools in the fight to close the sizable wage gap between men and women.
Championed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations and by prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages. Under the bill, employers would have to show that wage gaps truly are the result of factors other than sex discrimination. It would also require the U.S. Department of Labor to reinstate activities that promote equal pay, including collecting wage-related data. The bill had 231 co-sponsors when it passed.
Watch a short video below of Rep. DeLauro speaking before the Paycheck Fairness Act vote.
Higher Education Act Reauthorization
Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137) conference report last night, which updates existing programs and provides new ways to make college more accessible and affordable to all.
The legislation updates the Higher Education Act to better serve the growing number of nontraditional students — the majority of whom are women with work or family responsibilities. It allows such students to qualify for year-round Pell grants, which will help them attend summer classes or go to school part time. AAUW also supports the legislation’s intent to increase funding for on-campus child care and to expand the type of institutions eligible to receive these grants.
In addition, the legislation creates the Patsy Mink Graduate Fellowship Program, named in honor of the former congresswoman and AAUW member who played a primary role in passing Title IX. AAUW led the support for this new program, which will help diversify the professoriate by providing fellowships for doctorates or other terminal degrees to women and minorities, who then complete a teaching requirement after graduation.