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Capito-Cantwell bill seeks equal pay for U.S. athletes

WHEELING — U.S. athletes — both male and female — would receive the same pay under a bill co-introduced by U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito this week.

Capito, R-W.Va., joined with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in creating the “Equal Pay for Team USA Act.” The bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure equal pay for Americans who compete for their country in global athletic competitions, like the World Cup or the Olympics.

Currently, male and female athletes in the same sport can be paid differently while representing America at these events.

“The skill and success of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team at this year’s World Cup evoked a tremendous sense of pride and excitement in our country, but their performance also served as a reminder that women representing our country in global athletic competitions do not receive the kind of pay or benefits their male counterparts do,” said Capito, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

“While this is currently a very visible and talked about issue, it’s not a new one, and it’s time that we made sure all athletes representing our country on the global stage are equally compensated. As a woman, a sports fan and the mother of a female athlete, I’m proud to join with Sen. Cantwell on this bipartisan legislation.

The bill would require male and female athletes not only be paid equally, but also receive the same benefits as they pertain to medical care, travel arrangements and reimbursement for expenses.

It also requires the respective governing bodies overseeing American athletes to submit to Congress an annual report showing their compliance with pay and benefit equity.

The bill applies to 50 different national sports governing bodies, and it requires the United States Olympic Committee to conduct oversight to make sure they all come into compliance with the legislation.

“When American athletes represent our country on the worldwide stage, they deserve to be compensated equally — because a gold medal is a gold medal, no matter your gender,” Cantwell said. “The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team has done so much to raise this issue, but it impacts top athletes in every sport. It’s time for us to work together to right this wrong and get this done.”

Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced legislation that would halt any federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup games in North America until the four-time World Cup champion U.S. women’s team receives equal pay.

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