President Barack Obama, his re-election fortunes heavily dependent on women, pushed Congress on Monday to "step up and do its job" by passing a bill designed to erase the wage gap between male and female workers doing the same job.
With Senate Republicans expected to block the Paycheck Fairness Act when it comes up for a vote on Tuesday, Obama urged supporters of the measure to make an 11th-hour push on behalf of the legislation.
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"At a time when we're in a make-or-break moment for the middle class, Congress has to step up and do its job," the president said on a conference call. "But let's face it: Congress is not going to act because I said it's important; they're going to act because you guys are making your voices heard."
"So senators have to know you're holding them accountable. Everything that they're going to be hearing over the next 24 hours can make a difference in terms of how they vote," the president said.
Polls show Obama with a solid lead over Mitt Romney among women. The Republican does better with men.Democrats have sought to widen their lead by accusing Republicans of waging a "war on women." The fight over the Paycheck Fairness Act could provide ammunition there.
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Advocates for the legislation underline that full-time working women make about 77 cents for every dollar made by men with similar jobs. The law would require employers to prove that a disparity in pay between men and women doing the same work result from factors other than gender (like work experience or educational level). It would also bar employers from punishing employees who discuss their salaries with colleagues.
While Obama's intervention is unlikely to sway the debate in Congress, the White House has unveiled an aggressive campaign to show that he is on the side of women. It notably invited supporters to send e-cards about the law.
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