On the Sunday talk show circuit, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) criticized the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as nothing more a giveaway to trial lawyers.
“Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.”
The 2009 law makes it easier for women to sue their employers if they’re being paid less than men for doing equal work. Rubio said he supports the principle but opposes the Ledbetter legislation as a way of achieving it.
“If you’re the most qualified person for the job, you should be able to get paid — you should get paid as much as your male counterpart,” he said. “Everyone agrees with that principle.”
The law has become a flashpoint for the women’s vote in the presidential race. President Obama often points out that the Ledbetter act was the first bill he signed into law. Mitt Romney’s campaign has recently struggled to clarify his view of the law, saying he does not have a position on whether he would have signed it if he were president in 2009 but that he won’t try to get rid of it if elected.
Republicans, including vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, broadly opposed the measure in 2009. Earlier this summer they filibustered legislation offered by Senate Democrats’ to strengthen protections for women in the workplace, in part by forbidding employers from retaliating against women who sue for pay discrimination.
Defending his opposition to the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, Rubio similarly called it an effort to help trial lawyers instead of women.
“It’s pure election-year politics,” he told reporters in June. “This bill reads more to me like some sort of a welfare plan for trial lawyers.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.