Democrat Childers says he differs with Republican Sen. Cochran on women's pay legislation

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JACKSON, Mississippi — Democratic former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers said Tuesday that if he's elected to the Senate, he will support a bill requiring employers to pay women and men the same amount for doing the same jobs.

"I have learned to listen to the women in my family, especially concerning family issues. I only have to look back as far as my own mother to be able to talk about and tell you that I proudly support the paycheck fairness act," Childers said during a news conference in Jackson.

Childers is trying to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the Nov. 4 general election, and he criticized Cochran for voting to block such a bill. Cochran was among 40 Republican senators who voted Monday against letting the pay bill move forward (http://1.usa.gov/1uEsiQh ). Fifty-two Democrats voted to advance the bill, but they fell short of the 60 votes they needed.

Childers said Tuesday that women's contributions to the family income are as important as men's, and women should be paid equally for the same job. He brought a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk to the news conference and noted that women don't receive discounts on groceries, gasoline or other necessities.

Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell said the incumbent supports equal pay.

"This bill is just an election year stunt and a gift to trial lawyers," Russell said. "Travis Childers was a loyal foot soldier for Nancy Pelosi when he was in the House, so it should come as no surprise he is pledging to march to Harry Reid's tune in the Senate."

Russell also said two federal laws that were enacted before Cochran took office — the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — already address "alleged pay discrimination."

Census bureau figures show that on average, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. Figures show that men tend to be paid more than women in comparable jobs and with equal amounts of education. But on average, women tend to accept shorter hours than men and are likelier to take lower-paying jobs.

The Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara also is running for Senate in Mississippi this year.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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