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Foxx: H.R. 3110 is the wrong way to go about empowering women in the workplace

Today, Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) spoke on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 3110, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act. Now, more than ever, we need to advocate for flexible workplace policies that improve conditions for, and empower, working mothers. This bill is not a step in that direction. It takes a sweeping and more punitive route, creating extra hurdles and penalties for employers that are both unworkable and unnecessary.

Foxx delivered the following remarks on the House floor:

“This act puts overly burdensome, one-size-fits-all requirements on businesses. While I believe empowering women in the workplace is important, we must not saddle businesses with rigid policies that will open them up to legal action. We instead must support flexible policies that allow women to thrive in the workplace.
“This bill’s flawed scheme and expansive mandate do more harm than good and will further bog down businesses that are already struggling to recover from the pandemic. During this difficult time the last thing small businesses need are more sweeping mandates.
“More than 2 million women left the labor force in 2020. Now more than ever, we need to advocate for flexible workplace policies that improve conditions for, and empower, working mothers.

“I fully support women who wish to enter and return to the workforce, and I understand the challenges that can come with this, especially for nursing mothers. Yet, I don’t believe one-size-fits-all mandates are beneficial—not for women and not for employers.
“Workplaces are as varied as the people they employ. Putting every workplace under the same standard, despite a job creators’ needs or ability to meet that standard will ultimately be bad for the American worker.
“Airlines are just one example of an industry that will be negatively impacted if this bill is signed into law. Under this bill’s rigid requirements, airlines may have to rethink plane designs or modify aircraft to provide a private space, other than a bathroom, for nursing mothers to pump, as required under the bill.
“The rigid break requirements in the bill are also inappropriate for airlines because flight crews have varying responsibilities in preparation for and throughout flights, which ensure the safety and security of passengers.
“Exposing airlines and other businesses to such inflexible requirements will hurt struggling businesses.
“Further, not all nursing mothers have the same needs. Pretending that they do might be convenient, but it also demonstrates ignorance about the diverse circumstances that mothers are in.
“I wholeheartedly believe that it is possible to provide women with a healthy environment in which to work and simultaneously to allow businesses flexibility in providing accommodations.
“When I first entered the workforce, nursing-accommodation requirements for women in the workplace were not even on the horizon.
“Countless workplaces now provide such accommodations—and rightly so. Current law provides accommodations for hourly workers. Creating a healthy place for women to thrive is important to all of us. But there is a right way to go about this and a wrong way. H.R. 3110 is the wrong way.
“Most employers have their employee’s best interests at heart, but H.R. 3110 treats our job creators as if they are out to harm the very women they depend on to keep their businesses running. Again, this is the wrong way to go about empowering women in the workplace.
“This bill’s excessive penalties, expansive mandate, and lack of clarity will create a perfect storm for frivolous lawsuits. Unfounded lawsuits cost businesses billions every year in the United States. We should do all we can to prevent opening businesses up to harmful legal action.
“I’d like to remind my colleagues that Rep. Miller-Meeks submitted her bill, the Supporting Working Mothers Act, to the Rules Committee as an amendment to provide a commonsense alternative to the PUMP Act. That is a sensible amendment that meets the actual needs of nursing mothers without forcing overly burdensome regulations on our job creators.
“This amendment, unlike the PUMP Act, expands access to nursing accommodations in the workplace without relying on punitive mandates that expose business owners to costly litigation.
“The Supporting Working Mothers Act adds nursing-accommodation coverage for white collar executive, administrative, or professional employees, ensuring that over 80 percent of currently-exempt women are covered.
“That amendment also includes a fair and workable process to ensure accommodations are provided for nursing mothers by encouraging collaboration between workers and employers to identify and make improvements when accommodations are insufficient.
“Representative Miller-Meeks’ commonsense amendment serves nursing mothers in the workforce without sacrificing the well-being of our job creators. This is the right way to empower women.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Democrat majority refused to make the amendment in order. Democrats chose to stifle debate on this commonsense approach to nursing accommodations in favor of a flawed mandate."
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