Feinstein, Murray, Democratic Women’s Caucus Leadership Introduce Equal Pay Bill for U.S. National Teams
Jun 24 2021
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Democratic Women’s Caucus co-Chairs Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Vice Chairs Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), today introduced the Even Playing Field Act to ensure equal pay, investment and working conditions for U.S national team athletes, coaches and other personnel.
In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).
In the House, the bill is cosponsored by Representatives Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), William R. Keating (D-Mass.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Penn), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Al Lawson (D-Fla.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
“Next month, the U.S. women’s national teams will take the stage at the Summer Olympics, ready to bring home the gold,” said Senator Feinstein. “Unfortunately, despite numerous and repeated successes on the field, they continue to receive less financial support than their male counterparts. It’s time to even the playing field and ensure men and women’s national teams receive equal pay and resources within their respective sports.”
“Pay discrimination is unacceptable in any job, but few things highlight this pay inequity more dramatically than the staggering differences in how our male and female athletes are paid,” said Senator Murray. “It is outrageous that even while winning more championships and gold medals than their male counterparts, our talented female athletes are still having to fight for equal pay. This bill will make sure that female athletes representing our country don’t get shortchanged. But we can’t stop there – we need to make sure every single athlete, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity – gets the pay, dignity, and respect they deserve.”
“It's an outrage that women athletes have had to fight for equal pay when the only thing they should be fighting for is the world title or a gold medal,” said Representative Speier. “The U.S. Women’s National Team – the greatest team in the sport’s history – deserves fair pay for not just equal, but superior work to their male counterparts despite being subjected to less investment. This legislation will ensure the equity in compensation, investment and workplace conditions that our women athletes deserve. It’s past time that the U.S. led the way in pay equity for women athletes, and women in all occupations, so that paycheck fairness finally becomes the law of the land.”
“All athletes, regardless of sex, deserve equal pay, resources and support,” said Representative Frankel. “There is no better example than our champion Olympic women who train hard, work hard and bring tremendous pride to our country.”
“Our women athletes pour their heart, soul and spirit into their sports, achieving extraordinary feats that some can only dream of. But even when they reach the top, like the USWNT, they’re still met with gender inequalities that prevent them from fully breaking that glass ceiling,” said Representative Lawrence. “As the co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, I’m proud to join my DWC leadership to close the gender gaps and even the playing field for our women athletes. The Even Play Field Act of 2021 means equal pay, equal investment, and equal working conditions. This legislation builds on the progress the House is making for women’s rights as we’ve worked to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution and VAWA Reauthorization.”
“Women on our national athletic teams have achieved historical wins but still receive less compensation than male athletes,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “All women deserve equal pay for equal work, including those representing our country with their talent. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Even Playing Field Act to ensure fair wages and adequate training conditions so our women athletes can continue representing the best of our country and breaking barriers for future generations of girls around the world.”
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals and is currently ranked No. 1 heading into the Summer Olympics. However, despite its success on the field, the U.S. Soccer Federation pays women team members just 38 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.
Not only does the women’s national team outperform the men on the field, but that success has also led to an increase in ticket sales. From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated $50.8 million in revenue compared to $49.9 million for the men’s national team, according to an audit of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s financial statements.
That pay gap is not unique to women’s soccer. In 2017, the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team received a pay raise from its governing body, USA Hockey, only after the team threatened to boycott a major competition.
The Even Playing Field Act would amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which outlines eligibility requirements and general duties of national governing bodies (NGBs), such as U.S. Soccer, that are selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Even Playing Field Act would:
- Require the U.S. Olympic Committee to ensure female athletes are provided with wages, investment, and working conditions equitable compared to their male counterparts.
- Clarify eligibility requirements for NGBs to include demonstrating and providing investment, promotional support, working conditions, wages, stipends and other compensation for amateur athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, administrators and officials that is free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.
- Stipulate that duties of NGBs include providing equitable support and encouragement for participation by women, including investment, promotional support, working conditions (including staff support and facilities and equipment), wages, stipends and other compensation.
- Mandate that each NGB submit regular reports to Congress on their compensation practices, broken out by race and gender.
The bill is supported by the National Partnership for Women and Families, American Association of University Women, National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation and Sports Fans Coalition.
“The Even Playing Field Act is a great step to granting equality to all of Team USA,” said Brian Hess, executive director of Sports Fans Coalition. “As the nation’s largest fan-advocacy group, we are excited to work with Senator Feinstein and Representatives Speier and Frankel on advancing equality for all athletes.”
“The Women's Sports Foundation is greatly appreciative of the senators and representatives working together to fight for pay equity by reintroducing the Even Playing Field Act,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Across so many sports, female athletes continue to illuminate inequities and call for change. By providing equitable pay, resources and treatment, we send the message to girls across the country that they are valued.”
Senators Feinstein and Murray led letters signed by the majority of Senate Democrats in March 2019 and June 2016 calling on the U.S. Soccer Federation to provide equal pay to its athletes. The Democratic Women’s Caucus led a letter in July 2019 signed by 52 Members demanding answers from the federation as to how it will remedy its pay inequities.
In 2016, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Soccer Federation to immediately eliminate gender pay inequity and treat all athletes with the same respect and dignity. Despite that resolution and other efforts, the pay gap has persisted.
The pay discrimination that the women’s teams are subject to reinforces the need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to finally put teeth into the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the House in April and filibustered in the Senate.