Imagine how much more time Congress would have to accomplish things if it weren’t for the men who insist that their female colleagues have no idea what they’re talking about—even on issues that directly impact women more.
Just take this nine-minute back and forth between Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne and Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild, in which Byrne wouldn’t listen to Wild insisting that his amendment to a gender pay gap bill would make the proposal unclear, going so far to say that Wild was only disagreeing with him because she didn’t understand his amendment, nor the bill itself.
The bill, called the Paycheck Fairness Act, would attempt to end the practice of employers paying women less than men for the same job and change the language of the Fair Labor Standards Act to include pay inequality on the basis of gender. The bill exempts cases in which a difference in pay is based on “any other factor other than sex.”
Byrne, however, wanted to replace that phrase with providing an exemption for pay difference based upon “a bona fide business-related reason other than sex.” Byrne’s amendment also removed a paragraph from the bill that defined the original phrase “any other factor other than sex” in four parts.
Byrne argued that the amendment would prevent the bill from being misinterpreted in lawsuits, despite being far less clear in definition than the original language. However, when Wild explained that the original language was clearly defined in the bill, and asked her colleagues to vote no on Byrne’s amendment, Byrne accused Wild of not understanding a bill she co-sponsored.
“I don’t think [Wild] understands what that language actually means and how it’s been interpreted by the courts and how it may be totally misinterpreted against plaintiffs in these types of lawsuits,” Byrne said during the debate. “I do think that she misunderstands both the amendment and the underlying bill.”
“I think it is my colleague from Alabama who’s confused about the wording of this text,” Wild countered. Later in the debate, she elaborated: “This amendment simply replaces it with the word ‘bona fide’ with no additional definition or guidance, thereby that this defense will continue to be misunderstood, misused, and incorrectly applied by the courts.”
This whole thing went on for nine minutes. Nine minutes!!!
Byrne’s amendment eventually failed, and the bill eventually passed with support of the entire Democratic caucus and seven Republicans. Now it goes to the GOP-controlled Senate, where it historically hasn’t seen much movement.
In a statement to HuffPost, Wild called Byrne’s amendment a “clear attempt” to undermine the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“As a practicing attorney for over 30 years,” Wild said, “I can tell you this was not the first time someone has attempted to avoid an argument over the merits of the law using condescension and dismissal.”