- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin III on Wednesday led fellow Democrats in introducing legislation that would force the U.S. national soccer team to pay an equitable sum to male and female players.

Titled the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act, the legislation would withhold federal funding from the 2026 World Cup unless the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to equal pay. The legislation, which has been introduced in prior years to limited success, is favored by Democrats and the Biden White House ahead of the 2026 games, a part of which will be hosted in the U.S.

“The first vote I took as a Senator was to support paycheck fairness, and to this day, I am proud to lead the fight for equal pay across all workplaces, including the soccer field,” said Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense bill to ensure a level playing field for everyone, including our top-notch U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.”

Mr. Manchin’s introduction of the act comes amid backlash from progressives over his decision to oppose President Biden’s elections overhaul legislation as well as the elimination of the Senate filibuster.

It also comes one day after the Senate failed to advance legislation to address the pay gap between men and women. Although it is already illegal to discriminate between sexes when it comes to wages, Democratic lawmakers argue there is no proper way to ensure its enforcement.

Democrats, including Mr. Manchin, hope that by making an example out of the U.S. Soccer Federation they can build broader momentum for broader pay equity legislation.

“While we were unable to pass the much-needed legislation last night, today I’m introducing the GOALS Act with my Senate colleagues to ensure that our phenomenal U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team are paid equitably compared to their male counterparts,” said Mr. Manchin.

Mr. Manchin and Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington Democrat, led 13 fellow Democrats in championing the GOALS Act.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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