Murray Slams Republican “Power Grab” on Critical Civil Rights Agency To Give Corporations Who Discriminate More of A Voice Than Workers
Republican leaders jammed through a nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in an attempt to further stack the deck against workers
The EEOC is a critical civil rights agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws, protects LGBTQ rights in the workplace, and addresses workplace harassment
As so many brave people have come forward and shared their stories of harassment and assault in the workplace, Murray called on Senate Republicans not to politicize the EEOC
Murray: “These issues should matter to everyone—Republican or Democrat—and this critical civil rights agency should be able to stay out the political fray, too. We must ensure that the EEOC is balanced, and remains committed to its core mission.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today, chastising Republicans for jamming through Janet Dhillon to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission without a Democratic nominee. Despite longstanding practice to confirm nominees to independent agencies as pairs, Republicans voted to confirm Dhillon, who has devoted her career to making it easier for corporations to violate workers’ rights without consequences.
“What we are seeing today is another power grab by Republican leaders, another Republican step toward partisanship and away from balance, and, if Ms. Dhillon is confirmed, another step backward under Republican leadership for workers who simply want to be treated fairly on the job—especially those workers who historically haven’t had the rights or resources to come forward,” Senator Murray said in floor remarks.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces workplace discrimination laws, protects LGBTQ rights in the workplace, and is the primary agency addressing the gender pay gap. The EEOC is also responsible for addressing harassment in the workplace, and as the country grapples with addressing the #MeToo movement, Senator Murray called on her Republican colleagues to keep this critical civil rights agency out the political fray.
Dhillon’s confirmation comes after Senate Republican leaders allowed one Republican Senator to object to the Democratic nominee last Congress, leaving the EEOC without a quorum and unable to fully perform its responsibilities. Murray has continually fought against Republican efforts to undermine the EEOC and vowed to continue to keep fighting for a balanced Commission committed to protecting every worker’s rights.
Full remarks of Senator Murray’s floor speech are below:
“Thank you M. President.
“I come to the floor to oppose the nomination of Janet Dhillon to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“I have a number of concerns about Ms. Dhillon’s record—which I plan to lay out here today—but before I do, I want to talk about the process in which this nomination has come to the Senate floor.
“M. President, it has long been common practice in the Senate to confirm nominees to independent agencies as pairs—one Republican and one Democrat.
“We do this so agencies like the EEOC are balanced and able to fully function—no matter which party is in the White House.
“This is also an important tool for the Senate minority…
“And in the case of the EEOC—it ensures that workers are being protected from discrimination in the workplace.
“And yet—at every opportunity—Republicans have broken norms and abandoned longstanding practices to jam through their nominees.
“First, it was the National Labor Relations Board—when my colleagues across the aisle jammed through two Republican nominees without a Democrat and then refused to give a highly-qualified nominee another term on the Board. All because this highly-qualified nominee was fighting on the side of workers—not for corporations.
“Then, one lone Republican was allowed to object to the re-confirmation of a well-respected Commissioner to another term on the EEOC—even if that meant the EEOC would no longer have a quorum and be able to perform some of its most critical duties.
“M. President, I came down to the Senate floor—and urged our colleagues to end the partisan obstruction and pass a slate of nominees to the EEOC, but Republican leaders allowed one Republican member’s opposition to a noncontroversial nominee to hold more weight than the Senate minority.
“Now, Republicans want to jam through yet another nominee without a Democratic pair.
“By doing this—my colleagues across the aisle have abandoned longstanding norms of the Senate and are once again sending a message to the most vulnerable workers that they believe the corporations that discriminate against them deserve more of a say.
“This is unacceptable—and it goes against the core mission of the EEOC.
“It is illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their race, religion, sex, disability, or because they are LGBTQ. And it is the EEOC’s responsibility to enforce these laws and to give every person the opportunity to earn a living without fear of discrimination or harassment.
“The EEOC protects LGBTQ rights in the workplace, and is the primary agency addressing the gender pay gap. And M. President—the EEOC is responsible for addressing harassment in the workplace—an issue our country has been grappling with, but still has a long way to go.
“Over the past two years, as so many brave women and men have spoken out and shared their stories, we’ve seen a shift in this country toward acknowledging—finally—the epidemic of harassment and assault in our workplaces.
“And—finally—we’re beginning to address it on a large scale.
“In Hollywood, the media, and even in the halls of Congress—those who have used their positions of power to prey on the less powerful are finally being held accountable.
“But workers in industries outside the spotlight—in hospitality, in farm fields, and in offices around the country—are still waiting for the same kind of reckoning.
“And for many of these workers, the EEOC is one of the few places they can turn.
“It’s a resource for workers who want to file complaints—and it holds employers and businesses accountable for discrimination and harassment.
“These issues should matter to everyone—Republican or Democrat—and this critical civil rights agency should be able to stay out the political fray, too.
“We must ensure that the EEOC is balanced, and remains committed to its core mission.
“And unfortunately—Janet Dhillon’s record proves she won’t stand up for workers. Ms. Dhillon has spent her career working on the side of corporations, making it easier for them to violate workers’ rights without consequences.
“She has fought against positions the EEOC has taken that helped ensure workers have the protections they need.
“And in her confirmation hearing—she refused to commit to maintaining the EEOC’s current—and critical—position that LGBTQ workers are protected under the Civil Rights Act, which is something that should not be up for debate.
“So M. President, what we are seeing today is another power grab by Republican leaders…
“…another Republican step toward partisanship and away from balance…
“…and, if Ms. Dhillon is confirmed, another step backward under Republican leadership for workers who simply want to be treated fairly on the job—especially those workers who historically haven’t had the rights or resources to come forward.
“I urge the Senate leader to postpone this vote and work with the White House to get our Democratic nominee ready for confirmation.
“There is no need to break yet another Senate tradition.
“This is bad for workers, and bad for our country.
“M. President, I yield the floor.”
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