Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For Sen. McConnell To Pass Pay Equity Legislation And Acting OMB Director Vought’s Concerning Push To Delay Implementation Of Actions Against Huawei

June 11, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for the Senate to pass legislation that aims to end gender-based wage discrimination and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought’s concerning push for a two-year delay to the implementation of key portions of a law intended to protect U.S. agencies and government contractors from Chinese telecom technology—chiefly Huawei. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

This afternoon, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team will begin its quest for another World Cup title with its opening match against Thailand. As the entire nation cheers them as they take the field, I want to shine a light today on an issue the women’s national team has been fighting for off the field: pay equity.

The women make just as much of a sacrifice, put in just as much mental and physical energy, absorb just as much risk of injury as the men who play for our national team. Yet, when you break it down, a women’s national soccer team player ears a base salary of $3,600 per game while a men’s player earns $5,000. Over the course of the season, if both the men’s and women’s teams had the same record, the male player could earn $30,000 more than his female counterpart.

Female soccer players who earn the privilege of representing their country on the world stage get a much smaller bonus ($15,000) than male soccer players who earn the same privilege ($55,000).

When a women’s national team wins a world cup, something the U.S. women have done three times—with some New York state players helping—it wins a percentage of what a men’s team gets if it wins it all, something the U.S. men have never done. For the sake of comparison, U.S. soccer awarded the men’s national team a $5.4 million performance bonus for losing in the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. It awarded the women $1.7 million for winning the World Cup. Let me just repeat that, so you get the contrast: the women won the World Cup, and were given $1.7 million. The men got into the final sixteen, and got $5.4 million. Discrimination staring us all in the face.

This is an issue of basic fairness. Performances aside—and the women have been excellent and often dominant over the past two decades—we shouldn’t reward women less for doing the same work as men. We shouldn’t say to generations of girls (and boys) who look up to these talented stars that women’s sports is—in any way—less than. Because it’s not. These women, who inspire our country with their poise, tenacity, skill, and excellence every time they take the field, deserve to be fairly compensated.

And right now, the Senate could take a meaningful step to support the women’s international team by passing legislation that aims to end gender-based wage discrimination. The House passed a paycheck fairness bill months ago--it’s languished here in the Senate, in Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard. Bill after bill after bill comes from the House, has the support of a large percentage of Americans, gets Republican support in the House—Leader McConnell just lets them lay there. Another tombstone in the graveyard.

So as the women of Team USA take the field today, I call on Leader McConnell to bring up the House legislation already passed that would aid in their fight for equal pay. And I’ll be rooting for the women of Team USA to kick off their campaign with a win against Thailand.

Now, on another matter, Huawei. According to public reports, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, is pushing a two-year delaya two-year delayto the implementation of key portions of a law intended to protect U.S. agencies and government contractors from Chinese telecom technology—chiefly Huawei.

This is deeply concerning for two reasons.

First, from a national security standpoint. The FBI, CIA and other members of the intelligence community have testified that the technology from Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE present a national security risk, potentially allowing China to build backdoors into our networks, enabling their cyber-theft and their cyber espionage, for which they are unfortunately well-known. That’s why Congress banned U.S. government agencies and contractors from using this technology, because they are our highest value targets. And we’ve been encouraging our European allies to do the same.

Why on earth then is the Acting Director of OMB, Russell Vought, asking for a two-year delay in these rules? We passed the law more than a year ago, President Trump has signed it, and our agencies and contractors have had time to make sure their technology doesn’t come from Huawei.

There is simply no reason, in my mind, for such a lengthy delay. It would only extend a window of opportunity for what is already a dire threat to our national security.

And the second reason this news concerns me so—it’s about the Trump administration’s broader approach to China. Across many issues in the Trump Administration, it sometimes feels as though the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. A few weeks ago, the administration issued an executive order largely banning U.S. companies from selling equipment to Huawei, an action I praised. But then, the Commerce Department abruptly delayed that decision by three months. Now we have this additional request from OMB to soft-peddle a different set of restrictions on Huawei.

China needs to understand that the U.S. is serious when it comes to our trade relationship. We must have a consistent policy, implement it with rigor. And this idea of reciprocity—barring China’s companies from doing business here until they let our biggest companies do business there—is an important part of our overall effort to increase pressure on China to agree to meaningful economic reforms.

So I’m very troubled by the OMB’s request, and I plan on strenuously opposing approval of the delay here in Congress.

###