Congress shifting attention to women’s issues, healthcare


WASHINGTON -- Congress returns its attention this week to women’s issues, with the Senate voting on legislation to ensure paycheck equity as GOP front-runner Mitt Romney tapped a Republican congresswoman to be his campaign liaison in the House.

Women remain among the most sought-after voters, and Democrats are trying to shore up their historic advantage with females. President Obama has enjoyed a gender gap advantage among women, but Romney does better among white women, according to recent Gallup polling.

Republicans in the Senate are likely to block the paycheck equity legislation, characterizing it as another effort to use the halls of Congress as a campaign venue. But in doing so they risk playing into the narrative being set by Democrats that the GOP is waging a “war on women.”


The GOP has fought back by promoting its women candidates, especially in House races, and on Monday, the Romney campaign tapped Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, raising the profile of the top woman in House GOP leadership.

“She understands the impact of the economic challenges Americans face and the need to put our country on a better track,” Romney said.

The House this week is expected to take another turn at trying to dismantle Obama’s healthcare law with legislation that would repeal a tax on medical device manufacturers. Democrats have largely supported the tax, but Republicans argue that it is stifling job creation.

The House, which is operating on a two-week on, one-week off schedule, is expected to round out the week before lawmakers return home with passage of several annual spending bills. Funding for the government runs out Sept. 30, and the House has been making its way through the annual measures that hew to the GOP budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) by slashing domestic accounts, revamping Medicare and keeping tax rates low.

Most of the bills have been rejected by the White House as cutting deeper than the levels agreed to in a deal with Congress last summer, and they are likely to die in the Senate.