Male Senators Voted for an Equal Pay Bill, Then Killed It When a Woman Left the Room  

When Senator Jennifer Wexton stood before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday and proposed SB419, an equal pay bill ensuring that women be paid as much as their male counterparts, the committee (led by a majority of male conservatives) passed the bill on an 11-5 vote. But as soon as Senator Wexton left the room, that same committee voted to reconsider the bill and then killed it the next day.

Here’s how it happened:

SB419 would have ensured that women in Virginia get paid just as much as their male counterparts for doing the same work and given them legal protections if they aren’t.

Senator Wexton first presented the equal pay bill in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, where it passed unanimously and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. That was a step in the right direction, and activists were rightly excited that they were (finally!) making progress on such an important issue.

When the bill was up in the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Wexton came to present her bill, making the very logical case that women should be paid the same amount as men. Because…duh. The committee, made up of mostly older, white men, voted to pass the bill on an 11-5 vote. Victory!

But as soon as Senator Wexton left and there was no one to defend the bill, Senator Richard Stuart made a motion to reconsider the vote. (Watch a video of that here at minute 1:08:25.) Because it is a huge breach of decorum and basic respect to do this while no one is there to defend the bill, SB419 was put on the docket again to be reconsidered at the next meeting, at the urging of Senator Tommy Norment.

So at the next meeting, supporters of the bill had to repeat the process all over again. Advocates took time off work (again) to travel to the General Assembly to address committee members about the importance of getting paid fairly, and the committee voted (again). But this time, they voted kill the bill. Their reasoning? Well, they just hadn’t read it clearly enough the first time.

Yes, you read that correctly. The people we elected to represent our best interests in Richmond, study bills, debate their merits, and cast their votes after careful consideration, apparently voted for a bill they disagreed with (some of them voted for it twice!) because they just hadn’t read it carefully enough.

Yes, you read that correctly. The people we elected to represent our best interests in Richmond, study bills, debate their merits, and cast their votes after careful consideration, apparently voted for a bill they disagreed with (some of them voted for it twice!) because they just hadn’t read it carefully enough.

THIS IS NOT HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS

Well, I call bullsh*t. I would bet that what really happened is that these conservative, anti-woman politicians have read the tea leaves and know that it would be politically dangerous for them to vote against such a commonsense bill. Remember, all this bill does is require employers to pay women the same amount as men for doing the same work—giving women the opportunity to defend themselves if they find out they aren’t.

To give themselves political cover, these anti-woman politicians voted in favor of the equal pay bill the first time, knowing full well that they could come back later and vote against it.

To to give themselves political cover, these anti-woman politicians voted in favor of the equal pay bill the first time, knowing full well that they could come back later and vote against it.

These kind of sneaky, legislative games are totally unacceptable. If a legislator doesn’t want to vote for a bill, he or she should own that stance and pay the electoral consequences come election time. That’s how democracy works.

Call these representatives today to voice your outrage at how they tricked voters.

These Senators voted TWICE in favor of the SB419 equal pay bill and then reversed their vote:

Senators Senators Frank Wagner, Ryan McDougle, Richard Stuart, and Mark Obenshain. If you are represented by these Senators, call them to voice your outrage.

These Senators voted once for SB419 and then killed the bill:

Republican Senators Tommy Norment, Steve Newman, Bill Carrico, Siobhan Dunnavant, and Frank Ruff. If you are represented by these Senators, tell them to do their jobs and own their bad votes without trying to trick voters!

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