Fight Over Minimum Wage Hike Comes To A Head In The Senate

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CBS News – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has spent months setting up a vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but the legislation is expected to meet its end in a matter of minutes Wednesday.

With staunch Republican opposition to the policy – not to mention the belief that Democrats are using the issue as an election-year gimmick – Reid won’t be able to muster the GOP votes he would need to get the bill on the floor for debate.

The majority leader had hoped to bring the proposal up for a vote earlier this yearbut it has been delayed by the gridlock facing the Senate on other issues, including judicial nominations and an extension of emergency unemployment benefits that took months to pass.

Reid would need at least six Republicans to overcome a filibuster and bring the minimum wage vote up for debate on the floor. One Democrat facing a tough re-election bid, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, had said the increase was too much, too fast and would have voted no. He will also miss Wednesday’s vote to attend totornado damage in his home state. Other Democrats who hail from Republican-leaning states were also unsure.

But even potential Republican supporters have been put off by Reid’s insistence that the wage be raised to no less than $10.10, the amount a person would have to earn each hour in a 40-hour work week to be above the poverty line.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was one of those lawmakers. She was reportedly talking to colleagues about a smaller increase in the minimum wage, but with no indication that she would be able to offer an amendment to the Democratic plan, she told a reporter Tuesday that she expected to vote against the measure.

Reid predicted Tuesday morning that opponents wouldn’t even bother saying much about the bill, “because the republicans are not anxious to come here and speak against raising the minimum wage.”

But there are Republicans who were more than willing to accuse Reid of seeking only to score political points.

“With more than 10 million Americans unemployed, the last thing that this body should be doing is considering legislation that would jeopardize jobs. Yet this week we’re back in session with another one of the Democrats’ election-year gimmicks,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said.

At the heart of the Republican opposition is a belief that raising the minimum wage would have an adverse effect on low-wage workers by leading employers to cut jobs. They cite a study from the Congressional Budget Office that said raising the minimum wage could cost 500,000 jobs (though it would also raise wages for an estimated 16.5 million people).

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the author of the minimum wage bill, said the bill would help 28 million people — a figure his office says includes people both directly and indirectly impacted — more than half of whom would be women, and more than 7 million of whom are parents.

And it’s unlikely, even with the legislation halted, the Democrats will stop championing the minimum wage as part of an election-year message that aims to show them as the party that champions working-class Americans.

President Obama will speak on the importance of raising the minimum wage at the White House Wednesday. In the House, Democrats are attempting to force a vote on a companion bill to Harkin’s although it, too, is all but certain not to succeed given Republican control of that chamber.


    • Tom Sambo

      Sorry Bob but that’s not part of the democrat agenda. Only welfare recipients deserve raises in their twisted minds.

      • Dora

        Are you a paid troll?
        The minimum wage would be for all people making under 10.10 an hour. There are probably people at the tv station making less. It is neither a Democratic or a Republican issue but one of survival. My sister needs a raise desperately. One child, dead-beat father who doesn’t pay child support, working three jobs to exist and pay her rent, utilities, groceries, child care, and gas money. She now has medical insurance but she owes medical debt from before the ACA. If not for loving family she would have went under long ago. Show some compassion if you have any? Did you ever earn 7.25? How did that work for you?

  • Arnold Fudpucker

    Raising the minimum wage has not improved anything in the past and won’t again. The only reason it is being brought up is to buy votes for the democrats who want to control every aspect of your life and make you a dependent ward of the gubbamint.

  • Dora

    Wrong Arnold. Is there any government you have ever liked? What year? What President? What makes you so grumpy? Are you ill? Do you need help? To increase the minimum wage acts as a substitute for employee bargaining power. Workers that are employed in low-paying positions are often not unionized and have little ability to influence their pay rate on their own or negotiate with employers. A minimum wage increase can force employers to increase wages that may be inequitably low.

    The total income it takes to support oneself, sometimes called a “living wage,” is often thought to exceed the minimum wage, meaning many workers are forced to subsist on less than they need to fulfill their basic needs like shelter, clothing and food. Living wages only take account of the needs of the individual; in families with children, the amount of money needed to live is much higher. Raising the minimum wage can put more money in the pockets of low-income wage earners to help them support their families and make them live a better life.

    Again I say, have you ever had to exist and pay all your bills on the minimum wage?

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