On the issues important to women, the contrast is clear: Democrats are fighting to improve the lives of America’s women and their families, while Republicans are standing with the powerful special interests to block women’s advancement in their careers, their health, and their struggle for equality. The following list provides just a few examples that demonstrate the risks posed to women’s security, equality, and policy priorities should Republicans become even more empowered to threaten progress.
Republicans would put Wall Street in charge of Social Security. Social Security is a lifeline to retired women and widows, as well as millions of American women in the “sandwich generation” caring for elderly parents who depend on the program for retirement security. Republicans are threatening once again to turn Social Security over to Wall Street or to eliminate the program altogether. [CBPP, 7/7/10; Fox5 News, 6/24/10; Politico, 6/28/10; Politico, 5/2/10; Associated Press, 6/1/10]
Republicans would deny justice for working women even when they have been raped by co-workers. Seventy-five percent of Republican Senators voted against an amendment that Sen. Franken (D-MN) sponsored in response to the brutal gang rape of a young woman while she was working in Baghdad. A fine-print loophole in her employment contract then prevented her from bringing suit against her employer, after the company ignored her complaints of sexual harassment and her co-workers drugged and gang-raped her, and locked her in a shipping container. The amendment was a targeted measure to deny government funding of defense contractors that force mandatory binding arbitration in the case of rape, assault, wrongful imprisonment, harassment, and discrimination. [Vote 308; Examiner, 10/8/09]
Republicans would kill equal pay for equal work. Republicans tried to filibuster the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, then 88 percent of GOP senators voted against it. [Vote 14] This legislation restored civil rights protections to ensure equal pay for equal work, closing a loophole that prevented women in certain cases from fighting pay discrimination in the courtroom. Senate Republicans are also blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand beyond the Ledbetter Act to better help prevent and reduce pay discrimination for women across the country. [Reuters, 7/20/10]
Republicans would rather do nothing while America’s children lose the teachers they need. Senate Republicans voted against keeping the jobs of 160,000 teachers and other critical school staff in schools facing severe budget cutbacks. [Vote 228; U.S. Department of Education, 8/10/10] At a time when our children need quality education more than ever to help build their futures, our nation should not be retreating on our investments in our children’s schools.
Republicans would kill quality, affordable health carefor women and their families. Senate Republicans infamously fought against ensuring that women and their families will always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if they lose their jobs, switch jobs, move, or become sick. They also fought against banning powerful health insurers from discriminating against women. One senator in the GOP Leadership even dismissed preventive care coverage for women, saying “I don’t need maternity care,” although his mother certainly did. [Vote 396, Vote 105; TPM, 9/25/09]
Republicans would slow efforts to shatter the glass ceiling in the Supreme Court. Our nation recently witnessed the confirmations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court now has three sitting female Justices for the first time – an achievement that is long overdue. Senate Republicans still opposed their confirmations, with 78 percent opposing Sotomayor’s nomination and 88 percent opposing Kagan’s nomination. [Votes 229 and 262] At present, Senate Republicans are also blocking the confirmation of 10 women nominated to the lower federal courts by President Obama, nine of whom faced no opposition whatsoever during review by the Senate Judiciary Committee. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 10/15/10]