Medford, Ore. -- Over the phone, U.S. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley pledged his support for Presidents Obama's executive actions over equal pay, saying the wage disparity takes food off the table.
"That's thousands of dollars a year, when that money could have gone to putting food on the table, rent, gas and so forth."
The American Association of University Women says female workers earn .23-cents less than their male counterparts. The labor department says it's more like 19-cents but executive orders signed by the president Tuesday could change that.
They would allow employees for federal contractors to discuss their compensation. That's banned by some employers. The orders would also collect data on wages between all races and genders. Senator Merkley calls it a step in the right direction but is long overdue.
While Republican leaders agree there's a problem, some say the President's making the issue an election year political stunt, saying Democrats don't respect the choices of young mothers.
"Many women seek jobs that provide more flexibility for their families over more money," said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R) Kansas.
But Senator Merkley says the facts hold up. Using his daughter as an example of why he supports the move toward equal pay and one more reason he says he'll continue to push for more legislation to even pay for women.