Some have called it a classic case of mansplaining on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne "mansplained" the Paycheck Fairness Act to Rep. Susan Wild while debating about the bill on the House floor. Wild, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who co-sponsored the legislation to promote wage equity for women, made sure to give Byrne an unapologetic rebuttal — and the exchange was all captured on video.
It began when Byrne, while proposing a change in the language of the bill, suggested that Wild didn't understand the legislation she co-sponsored. "Mr. Chairman, I have great respect for the lady," Byrne said. "I don’t think [Wild] understands what that language actually means and how it’s been interpreted by the courts and how it may be totally misinterpreted against plaintiffs in these types of lawsuits. I do think that she misunderstands both the amendment and the underlying bill."
In its current form, the bill includes an exemption related to difference in pay based on "any other factor other than sex." Byrne's amendment would have cut the definition for that phrase and replaced it with: "a bona fide business-related reason other than sex."
"I think it is my colleague from Alabama who’s confused about the wording of this text," Wild responded to Byrne, adding that "[Byrne's amendment] simply replaces it with the word 'bona fide' with no additional definition or guidance thereby that this defense will continue to be misunderstood, misused, and incorrectly applied by the courts."
In an official statement to HuffPost, Wild said that Byrne's comments were a "clear attempt" to diminish the importance of the Paycheck Fairness Act. "As a practicing attorney for over 30 years, I can tell you this was not the first time someone has attempted to avoid an argument over the merits of the law using condescension and dismissal," Wild told the outlet.
On Wednesday, the Paycheck Fairness Act sailed through the House, where Democrats form the majority, on a 242-187 vote. Among other steps to achieve workplace equity for women, the Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers from inquiring about a worker's past wages. It would also prevent employers from penalizing a worker for seeking information about wage differences at their job.
Byrne isn't alone in his dissatisfaction with the bill. His GOP colleague and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx issued her criticism, according to The Hill. "Everyone in this House is in agreement that pay discrimination on the basis of sex is wrong," Foxx said. "No matter how you look at it, the law is very clear about this. But this bill doesn't do anything to help working women. This is a bill for trial lawyers, plain and simple."
While Byrne and Foxx may not be satisfied with the Paycheck Fairness Act, several of their Republican colleagues have voted in favor of the bill, including New York's Tom Reed, Illinois Rodney Davis, Pennsylvania's Brian Fitzpatrick.
As for Wild, being mansplained to is not a new phenomenon for her, according to her tweet about the exchange on Wednesday. "I fully understand this language and that this amendment was a clear attempt to undermine the fundamental objectives of the #PaycheckFairnessAct," she tweeted. "This isn't the first time someone has mansplained #EqualPay to me."