The federally-mandated Minimum Wage has been at $7.25 an hour since 2009. If Senate Democrats, and President Obama, had had their way, that amount would have gone up to $10.10. But that effort has been brought to a grinding halt by the Republicans in the Senate.
Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa (Dem) introduced the bill for a vote in the Senate. According to ABC News, the bill was evidently intended to be a midterm election ploy. The idea was to bring a measure to the floor that gave working Americans a raise, and dare the Republicans to vote it down.
Senator Harkin nearly taunted the GOP prior to the vote. "Who's going to vote to give these people a fair shot at the American dream? And who's going to vote against it?"
But vote against it they did. Of course, that's not exactly how things work in the Senate. The vote was actually about whether to continue debate on the bill or to allow it to come to the floor for a vote. For the bill to be brought to the floor would have required 60 votes, but the motion to bring it to the floor went 54-42, along party lines.
In an interesting procedural move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted with the Republicans, which would allow him to call for another vote on the measure. This is because Democrats want to continue to keep this issue before Americans as the midterm elections draw nearer.
Most Americans support the notion of raising the Minimum Wage, but those that oppose it fall almost exclusively into two camps: Tea Party Republicans and business leaders.
The Guardian reports that President Obama made election year hay with this vote, saying, “By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for nearly 28 million hardworking Americans.” The president then tied the GOP's stance to election activities, calling for Americans to voice their own will.
“If there is any good news here it is that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this issue or any issue. You do, the American people, the voters.”
President Obama had previously thrown down the gauntlet on the Minimum Wage issue by signing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. So some people are already going to get that raise.
But the GOP counters that such a raise is irresponsible.
“You think you can pay somebody $10.10 an hour in a McDonald’s and it won’t have an impact on the cost of your Big Mac?” John Cornyn, the Republican Senate minority whip, said. “Well, you’re living in a fantasy world.”
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