Equal Pay Day in the spotlight on Capitol Hill

PAY FOR PLAY? You might have seen one of the viral videos or tweets, where women playing in the NCAA basketball tournament highlighted how their experience — weight room, amenities, and swag bags — varied compared to that of the men’s teams. Hint: There was no real comparison in some cases. And to many, this felt like business as usual: Women being undervalued.

When we talk about well-timed public awareness coinciding with hearings, this is the type of coincidence we’re talking about because today, House Democrats are slated to have a hearing on “Equal Pay Day” today, featuring a big name: World Cup Champion soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

Rapinoe emerged as a symbol of gender equality after the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filed a lawsuit in the spring of 2019 against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging pay discrimination compared to the significantly less-successful men’s team. While a judge dismissed the lawsuit last year as it relates to wage discrimination, the women’s team players are still appealing the ruling.

“Men are so often paid and compensated on the potential that they show, not necessarily what they’ve done,” Rapinoe told NPR last year. “And women are so often paid on what they’ve actually done — which normally I would say, we outperform what our contract was.”

House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney is expected to open the hearing by stating that today, Equal Pay Day, is not a celebration, but a sign of how hard women have had to work to receive equal compensation for their work compared to their male counterparts, with Covid exacerbating the issue: “Three extra months of work, just to earn the same amount,” Maloney will say, according to excerpts of her prepared opening statement that were shared with your Huddle host. “This is a disgrace, and has long-term consequences for women and families.”

On the other hand, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the panel, and freshman Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) are both expected to deliver opening statements today, I’m told.

BURGEONING BATTLES: Democrats’ efforts to pass their voting rights legislation, the ongoing push for a minimum wage increase, the surge of migrants at the border, and the reinvigorated party calls for action on gun violence are all rearing their heads this week like a four-headed Hydra. Biden and Dems on the Hill have to confront them all.

-GROWING FIGHT OVER VOTING RIGHTS BILL: Senate Democrats are eager to pass their voting rights measure — with or without Republican support. And their push to do so is also setting up a showdown on the legislative filibuster, with Dem senators — including those with strong working relationships across the aisle — stating that they are fine changing the longstanding rules of the Senate to address American elections. But TBD if Dems have 50 votes for the measure with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) so far remaining noncommittal.

As Burgess reports: “There’s no better preview of the voting rights buzzsaw that’s about to splinter the Senate than the current disagreement between Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt.”

Let’s zoom in: Klobuchar and Blunt, the top senators on the Senate Rules Committee, are a effective bipartisan duo on many various issues, including running their panel’s Jan. 6 Capitol attack investigation in near lockstep. But that well-oiled goodwill doesn’t transfer to the issue of Dem’s voting rights package, with the Minnesota Democrat saying she is willing to gut the filibuster to pass the measure — a move Blunt says would be an “unprecedented power grab by the federal government.”

Hot take: “Folks want to know where people like me fall on the filibuster. I think the bigger question is: Where do they fall on voting rights?” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

Burgess has more on the breakdown:

Related: Joe Manchin faces home state pressure to oppose fellow Democrats’ voting bill, by the WSJ’s Alexa Corse and Lindsay Wise: | G.O.P. and allies draft ‘Best Practices’ for restricting voting, by NYT’s Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein: | Power politics couched in the language of reform, by the National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar:

-MOVES LIKE SCHUMER: Democrats also emerged from a meeting Tuesday — the first in-person one Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has convened with a disparate group of senators split on the party’s minimum wage plan — describing their talks as promising, Burgess and Marianne report.

Moderate Senate Democrats are pushing for a compromise on the minimum wage hike, which comes after the defeat of a $15 hourly wage proposal earlier this month. Some senators in particular have taken issue with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) proposal because it nixed the tipped wage, a lower minimum wage for restaurant workers and other employees who receive gratuities. Some are also pushing for a wage increase to $11 an hour vs. Sanders’s goal of $15 wage hike by 2024.

The eight Dem caucus members who opposed Sanders’ proposal were in attendance, as was Sanders. And despite expectations of a terse back and forth over the matter, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) described it as a “wonderful conversation” and told reporters that he didn’t “think anyone will talk to you, it was so good.” Who is going to tell him they did…? More here from our Senate duo:

TOP-ED: The Filibuster Isn’t the key to bipartisanship. I know this firsthand, writes Russ Feingold:

-GUNNING IT?: Biden pledged on the campaign trail that on his first day in office, he wanted to take action on gun control measures (ah, yes, all those pesky outstanding “first day” campaign promises). More than 60 days later and despite saying Tuesday he doesn’t want to “wait another minute,” Biden has yet to take unilateral action.

As Laura Barron-Lopez and Anita Kumar report: “That delta between Biden’s rhetoric and actions was on the mind of gun control advocates as they found themselves once again pressing the president to institute a plan to address gun violence in the wake of two high-profile mass shootings six days apart. Frustrated by the administration’s slow pace, they’re increasingly asking why the White House isn’t taking concrete actions outside of Congress.”

But that may change, as WaPo reports: “For weeks, the White House has been privately exploring various executive orders related to firearms, such as strengthening background checks and community anti-violence funding, according to people familiar with the conversations. White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that they are considering potential executive actions, but they declined to provide a timeline. Also under discussion is regulating ‘ghost guns,’ which are devices assembled at home and lacking serial numbers, making them more difficult to track. ”

Schumer, meanwhile, is vowing to force a vote on an expansive proposal on background checks for gun buyers that the House passed two weeks ago. BUT, but, but, like in the past, it is looking like Dems will lack the needed votes to pass the background check bill in the Senate, with three key swing votes — including Manchin and GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) — voicing resistance to the “broad” legislation. More here from Marianne on the will-they-won’t-they:

Related: Boulder shooting survivors describe ‘Listening to him kill everyone you know,’ by NYT’s Jack Healy and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs: | Across states, a checkerboard of gun laws reflects partisan tilt, by NYT’s Reid Epstein:

CAN’T CONTROL THE WEATHER: Biden’s disciplined agenda rollout tested by the unexpected, by the AP’s Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire:

HAPPY HUMP DAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill on this March 24, where one should not expect to get any sort of aw-paw-logy for this mistake.

TUESDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The Daily Camera’s story, “’A tragedy and a nightmare’: Ten dead, including officer, after shooting at Boulder King Soopers” was the winner.

PUPS OF CAPITOL HILL: Alright folks, we have concluded the first round of votes for our Pups of Capitol Hill photo competition and it has already been filled with so much adorableness. Per a source close to one pup winner this week, a certain office got their whipping operations to go all out. So that’s something to keep in mind now as we head into Round 2: One-on-one matches. But first, the winners from yesterday are: Otto, Dug and Lucy (our first two-in-one pup pic winner), and Teddy RUFFSevelt.

On tap for today:

-1) Because your Huddle host is feeling a little impish today, she has set up one non-randomized, friend vs. friend, square off between Henry and Otto, Rep. Dean Phillips’ Norwich Terrier and Rep. Tom Malinowski’s Basenji. Let the battle begin. Vote here:

-2) Then, we have Albert “Bertie” Sanders Golden, the “smol” Boston Terrier, vs. Cooper, the budget reading pup: Vote here:

-3) And last on tap, we have a different Cooper, Cooper Kane, who is seated at Sen. John Barrasso’s desk vs. the two smiling pups, Dug and Lucy. Vote here:

NO CONFIRMATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: Sen. Tammy Duckworth backed down from her threat to block Biden’s future nominees over concerns that the administration had failed to adequately represent the Asian American community in its selections. She did so only after receiving “assurances” from the White House that it intends to elevate Asian American voices to senior posts in the administration, Duckworth spokesperson Ben Garmisa said in a statement late Tuesday.

Duckworth previously said it was “unacceptable” that Biden has named no Asian American Cabinet secretaries, while vowing to oppose nominees on the floor “until they figure this out.” (Biden’s U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is of Chinese American descent and technically occupies a Cabinet-level position, but she doesn’t have the cabinet secretary title.) And Duckworth received backup from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), another Asian American Democratic senator. Nick Wu, a new member of our Congress team, has the story:

BIDEN’S BORDER BURDEN: Biden’s decision to hit pause billions of dollars that were set to be spent on Donald Trump’s border wall is now under review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is assessing whether the president violated the law by freezing the funds and breaking budget rules that aim to keep Congress in control of the purse strings.

As Caitlin Emma reports: “An unfavorable ruling from GAO would bolster Republicans in branding Biden as a rule-breaker as they blame him for the surge of migrants and unaccompanied children at the southern border. The pause on spending ‘directly contributed’ to that flood of border crossers, Senate Republicans said in their plea last week for GAO to opine on the issue.” More here from Caitlin:

GRAHAM A GO ON EARMARKS: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told his GOP colleagues last week during a closed-door Senate Appropriations Committee meeting that Trump supports earmarks so why shouldn’t they, per Axios. The South Carolinian confirmed to Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene on Monday that he had made the case to Senate Republicans. “Democrats do it; if we don’t do it, we’re stupid,” Graham said. More here:

HITTING BACK, OP-ED STYLE: You know how Trump is going after Brad Raffensperger by supporting the bid of Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) to replace him as Georgia Secretary of State? Raffensperger has a new Op-Ed in National Affairs titled, “The Assault on Trust in Our Elections.” Here’s the full piece:

JAN 6 FALLOUT: Judge warns DOJ that media interviews could taint Oath Keepers case, Kyle reports: | Judge detains former Special Forces soldier charged with assaulting police during Capitol siege, also from Kyle:

HOPPING ON THE STATEHOOD BANDWAGON: Jon Ossoff is 44th Democratic senator to back DC statehood, HuffPo’s Paul Blumenthal and Igor Bobic report:

GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HFC FRIENDS: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who is running for the open Alabama Senate seat, is slated to have a fundraiser event on April 14 with House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who is joining as his “special guest,” per a copy of the invitation reviewed by your Huddle host.


-Confirmed: Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general

-Upcoming: The Senate Armed Services Committee is planning to vote today on Colin Kahl’s nomination to be Biden’s Pentagon policy chief. But all Republican senators are expected to vote against his nomination and it doesn’t help that Manchin dodged CNN’s Manu Raju’s efforts to get him to say how he’ll vote. So TBD where this stands.

-The Senate is also slated to vote today to confirm Rachel Levine to be an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services and David Turk to be deputy Energy secretary.


Essam Attia will be legislative assistant for veterans affairs for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He most recently was a HillVets fellow for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, announced the panel’s GOP staff for this Congress. New names include: Peggy Browne and Pam Miller, both who come to the panel by way of USDA, will both serve as senior professional staff and John Newton will join the Committee as chief economist. He previously worked at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).


The House is out, though it is still a committee work week.

The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m.


10 a.m.: The House Oversight Committee’s hearing on Equal Pay Day, featuring Rapinoe.

10 a.m.: The Senate Rules Committee is holding a hearing on S.1, the “For The People Act,” where Schumer is expected to deliver remarks — a rare occurrence for a committee hearing. Witnesses include former Attorney General Eric Holder, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, Indiana AG Todd Rokita (a former GOP House member), as well as other experts.

10 a.m.: The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will have a virtual hearing on the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell slated to testify.

11:30 a.m.: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will have a virtual hearing on the “Power Struggle: Examining the 2021 Texas Grid Failure.”

12 p.m.: The House Armed Services Committee will have a hearing on extremism in the armed forces.


MONDAY’S WINNER: Paul Hays was the first person to correctly guess Minnesota elected two U.S. Senators from one party in the 1978 General Election and then two U.S. Senators from another party in the 2018 General Election. The UVA Center for Politics takes a deep dive into the “Minnesota Twins” and other double barrel elections.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From Emil Skodon, who was kind enough to send your Huddle host a spare question (which is always much accepted/encouraged): March 30 is the date on which the first-ever Ambassador of the United States was appointed. Who was that Ambassador, and to which country was he posted?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answer to [email protected].

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olivia_Beavers

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