WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today pressing for him to hold a hearing in the Committee on the significant issue of pay disparity between men’s and women’s sports in the United States. 

This week, the U.S. women’s national soccer team united the country and inspired generations by winning its fourth Women’s World Cup Championship title—making them the most successful team in international women’s soccer. Despite the women team’s extraordinary success, reports have highlighted the fact that USWNT players have made up only 38 percent of what players on the USMNT earned in previous years, and recent reports have made clear that disparities still persist. Klobuchar and Rosen point out that the gender pay gap is not just limited to soccer, but spans many sports in the United States.

“The gender pay gap is not just limited to soccer—it spans many sports in the United States,” the senators wrote. “A hearing would afford a timely opportunity for the Committee to recognize the importance of protecting and empowering athletes—while also examining the troubling pay disparities that have been highlighted in recent weeks.”

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Chairman Wicker:
CC: Ranking Member Maria Cantwell 

We write to respectfully request that you hold a hearing in the Commerce Committee on the significant issue of pay disparity between men and women athletes in the United States. 

This week, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) united the country and inspired generations with the clinching of its fourth Women’s World Cup Championship title—making them the most successful team in international women’s soccer. Since its inception, the team has also won four Olympic gold medals and eight Gold Cups. Although the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) has had many victories, including winning six Gold Cup championships, it has not won an Olympic gold medal or World Cup Championship title during that time. 

Despite the women team’s extraordinary success, reports have highlighted the fact that USWNT players have made only 38 percent of what players on the USMNT earned in previous years, and recent reports have made clear that disparities still persist. Meanwhile, despite the U.S. Soccer Federation’s assertions that the pay differential is based on difference in aggregate revenue generated by the two teams, the USWNT actually generated $900,000 more in revenue than the USMNT from fiscal year (FY) 2016 to FY 2018, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.  

The gender pay gap is not limited to soccer—it spans many sports in the United States. In 2017, the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team threatened to boycott the 2018 Winter Olympics over inadequate pay and support. The players were reportedly provided $1,000 per month during the six-month Olympic residency period and very little else throughout the four years between Olympic Games. Last year in the Women’s National Basketball Association, the maximum veteran player salary was $115,500, while the men in the National Basketball Association earned a minimum salary of $582,180. Despite four Grand Slam tennis tournaments in which men and women players are compensated equally, women tennis players are only earning 80 cents on each dollar that men earn in other matches. Although the Ladies Professional Golf Association this year will distribute a record of roughly $70 million in prize money, this is only close to one-fifth what the men will receive from the Professional Golf Association Tour. 

As you know, this Committee has previously held hearings on issues within its jurisdiction over sports matters, including hearings on combating sexual abuse in Olympic sports and preventing opioid abuse among athletes in the previous Congress. Following the USWNT’s latest World Cup victory, a hearing would afford a timely opportunity for the Committee to recognize the importance of protecting and empowering athletes—while also examining the troubling pay disparities that have been highlighted in recent weeks.

We sincerely appreciate your consideration of this request, and our staffs would be happy to work with yours to plan such a hearing.

Sincerely,

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