Republican Lawmakers Tell Dems, 'Stop Politicizing Women'

By Susan Jones | April 9, 2014 | 7:09 AM EDT

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., accompanied by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in May 2011. (AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the married mother of two daughters, says she's always supported equal pay for equal work, and so have her fellow Republicans.

"So on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let's start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone in this country have a better life," she told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Let's focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, more opportunities and that opportunity for a better life, which we all want."

Speaking at the same  news conference, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) said, "Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns and find it condescending that Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policies."

Jenkins agreed with Rodgers that Republicans "strongly support equal pay for equal work," and she noted that existing law -- the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- already outlaw discrimination in the workplace.

"Democrats want you to believe that Republicans do not support women in their efforts to be successful, as if conservatives who believe in less government, fair taxes, personal responsibility and freedom are unwilling to support my mom, my sister, my daughter or me."

Jenkins said many women choose jobs that provide flexibility over high salaries, just as she did when she was a young working mother. "It is my choice," Jenkins said, "and I don't understand why Democrats won't respect my choices.

"I can tell you, the most important issues for women are a healthy economy and jobs, a good education system, lower health care costs and affordable energy. And those are the issues that Republicans in the House have already found solutions for...but the Democrat-controlled Senate won't take up."

Asked what Republicans are doing  on the subject of "equal pay," Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pointed to a bill passed by the house last week that would restore the 40-hour work week, which the Affordable Care Act knocked back to 30 hours.

"If you look to see those most impacted, it's women; 63 percent of those impacted by the 30 hour workweek rule are women," Cantor said. "So we could have had the Democrats work with us. We actually passed that bill, as you know. But if the Senate Democrats would pick it up, we could help women right now."

Senate Republicans on Wednesday are expected to derail a "paycheck fairness" bill that Democrats are using to attract female voters.

As the Associated Press reported: "Democrats all but dared Republicans on Tuesday to resist the legislation, which would make it harder for companies to pay women less than men for the same work and easier for aggrieved workers to sue employers.

"Republicans stand opposed to pay equity at their own peril," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. He pointedly added, "We're going to come back to this issue several times this year."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership, said, "It's very clear what this is about, and that is very simply trying to score political points."