As Congress debates the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — which has been passed and reauthorized with bipartisan support several times since it's inception in 1994 — prominent Democrats marked April 17 as "Equal Pay Day," recognizing the importance of continuing to fight for gender equality in the workplace. Several leading Democrats issued statements and penned op-eds in order to raise awareness of the issue, as well as the larger fight for women's rights.
Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said:
President Obama and Democrats understand that equal pay is so important for women and their families that one of the first pieces of legislation Democrats passed in 2009 and the first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensures that women can fight for equal pay for equal work, and on National Equal Pay Day we celebrate our continued fight for economic equality, regardless of gender.
The President's commitment to women is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney and the GOP's attitude toward equal pay for women. While Democrats and the President were making equal pay for equal work a priority, nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who Mitt Romney has called a 'hero,' recently repealed that state's fair pay law; and Mitt Romney refuses to say if he would have signed Lilly Ledbetter had he been president at the time. His campaign on a conference call last week couldn't even articulate a response when asked his position on the law....
On Equal Pay Day women can rest assured that Democrats and President Obama will continue the fight for equal pay for equal work and will fight for their right to make health care choices for themselves and their families. It's a shame that Mitt Romney and Republicans can't say the same thing.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — the first female speaker in American history — also said:
I'm proud of the accomplishments of the Democratic-led Congress on behalf of equal pay and fairness. The Lilly Ledbetter Act-the first bill President Obama signed into law-restored the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court. Further, under the Affordable Care Act, soon women will no longer be charged higher premiums than men for the same coverage and no longer will being a woman be treated as a pre-existing condition.
On Equal Pay Day, we honor all of our nation's women, who through their labor - at home and in the workplace - have made our country strong. And we recommit to opening the doors of opportunity for the next generation of women.
Graph of pay gap by profession, a map of pay gap by state, and op/eds by Senators Gillibrand and Boxer follow the jump.
Today is the final day of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta and three of the four top GOP candidates addressed the conference's 13,000 supporters. Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (right) appeared in person while Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appeared via satellite.
On Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres and US President Barack Obama addressed the conference hall. Obama said his policy toward Iran is not one of containment but of preventing the nation from developing a nuclear weapon. He also defended his policies toward Israel and stated the U.S. commitment to preserve Israel's security.
In a side conversation, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met Monday morning to discuss the status of the U.S.-Israel alliance. The president reiterated that the U.S. did not want the possibility of nuclear weapons "falling into terrorist's hands" and said there is a still a window that allows some negotiation. Pres. Obama also said he continues to reserve all options in dealing with Iran.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put out a video urging Americans to rise up against Stephen Colbert to pass a law to get unlimited, secret donations out of politics. In a first step to reform the money in politics, House Democrats are reintroducing the DISCLOSE Act to get unlimited, secret donations out of politics.
Beautifully filmed, with a powerful narration by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, but what it's about is not so pretty. This "mockumentary" video, hammers home the stark reality of California's plastic bag pollution situation.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives allocated an additional $205 million for Israel's Iron Dome missile shield for fiscal year 2011. Haaretz reported that the newest funding is in addition to the $200 million allocated for the Arrow and David's Sling missile defense projects. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said following the allocation, "This was a priority of Congress and President Obama, and it is the first funding of its kind for this important short-range rocket and artillery shell defense system." Rothman also declared:
This funding sends a strong message, to both our enemies and allies, by providing more total dollars than ever before toward these rocket and missile defense programs. This is only the latest example that when it comes to defense, military, and intelligence cooperation, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger.
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