September 19th, 2008
04:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Did McCain oppose helping women get equal pay?

Did McCain oppose equal pay for woman?
Did McCain oppose equal pay for woman?

The Statement:

At a campaign rally Friday, September 19, in Coral Gables, Florida, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama said, "It's not that Sen. McCain doesn't care about what's going on in the lives of women in this country. I like to think it's just that he doesn't know. Because, why else would he oppose legislation to help women get equal pay ... ?"

Get the facts after the jump!

The Facts: The legislation Obama apparently referenced is the Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2007 - which would have effectively expanded the length of time during which someone could sue an employer for pay discrimination. Ledbetter, a former Goodyear Tire employee, sued for years of unequal pay, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled she should have filed suit within 180 days of the first unfair paycheck.

The Obama campaign has repeatedly mentioned the legislation during the campaign. Lilly Ledbetter herself spoke at the Democratic National Convention. As Obama notes in the careful wording of his statement, it was not a yes-or-no vote on equal pay for women, but a vote on a specific change to the law that would have impacted both male and female workers. It passed the House, but on April 23, it failed to get the 60 votes needed to end a Republican-led filibuster.

McCain was campaigning in New Orleans and was not present for the vote. On the campaign trail, McCain said he was against the resolution. "I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems," he told The Associated Press.

Both Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, voted in favor of the motion - which failed with 56 votes in favor, 42 votes against and two senators not voting.

Verdict: True, but incomplete. McCain said he opposed it, did not actually
vote against it. And the legislation is more complicated than Obama's comments may suggest.


Filed under: Fact Check • John McCain
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