WASHINGTON — Here’s how state senators and representatives voted on major issues during the legislative week that ended Friday.
Equal pay for women: By a vote of 217 for and 210 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill, HR 7, to tighten current federal law against gender-based wage discrimination and prevent employers from paying women less than men for equivalent work. Sponsors of the bill said full-time female workers receive 82 cents for every dollar paid to male counterparts. The legislation would prohibit wage discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy or childbirth. Employers challenged in court would have to show that wage disparities are based on factors other than sex — such as education, training or experience — and are a business necessity. Civil penalties would be increased, punitive and compensatory damages would no longer be capped, class action lawsuits would be facilitated, and retaliation would be prohibited against workers disclosing pay information or making inquiries or complaints. Salary history could not be used in the hiring process or in setting pay levels, so that pay gaps would not follow workers from one job to the next. Federal agencies would collect more pay information from employers.
Voting yes: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle; Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, Marilyn Strickland, D-Olympia
Voting no: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane
Self-policing by employers: By a vote of 183 for and 244 against, the House rejected on Thursday a proposed amendment to HR 7 that would have allowed employers accused of wage discrimination to avoid penalties if during the previous three years they had conducted a job and wage analysis and taken steps to remedy any disparities based on sex that the audit revealed. The amendment would allow employers to establish ground rules on disclosure and discussion of wages. The Government Accountability Office would be directed to study causes and effects of wage disparities among men and women, disparities in negotiating skills among men and women, and the extent to which decisions to leave the workforce for parenting reasons affect wages and opportunities.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Strickland
Protecting health care workers from violence: By a vote of 254 for and 116 against, the House on Friday passed a bill, HR 1195, to order new Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules protecting health care and social service employees from workplace violence. The bill’s Democratic sponsors said those workers need special protection because they are exposed to a particularly high risk of on-the-job violence from those they are working to assist. Opponents said the new rules would be rushed and overly rigid. OSHA would have a year to issue an interim standard and 42 months to complete the rule-making process.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Strickland
Confirming deputy secretary of state: By a vote of 56 for and 42 against, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of Wendy R. Sherman to the No. 2 position at the State Department. Sherman, 71, was a high-ranking diplomat during the Obama administration and was the chief U.S. negotiator of the 2015 agreement that sought to restrict Iran’s nuclear activities. Former President Donald Trump scrapped that agreement, but President Joe Biden has promised to try to renegotiate the multilateral pact.
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D
Confirming deputy transportation secretary: By a vote of 82 for and 15 against, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of Polly E. Trottenberg, 57, to the second-ranking post at the Transportation Department. Trottenberg was New York City’s transportation commissioner the past seven years and was a senior official at DOT during the Obama administration.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray
Confirming chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission: By a vote of 53 for and 45 against, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Gary Gensler as chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the body that regulates Wall Street and publicly traded companies. Gensler, 63, who chaired the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Obama administration and was an undersecretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration, is expected to promote tougher rules and enforcement.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray