“For Republicans, this vote will truly determine if they care about our economy.”
At least that is what Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said prior to their voting Wednesday on a crucial bill to raise minimum wage during this congressional election year. But in less than an hour, the vote was over and the bill was blocked by Senate Republicans – a familiar tune to Americans.
In the now endless cycle of zero compromise between Republicans and Democrats in the US, this ongoing topic that Obama outlined in his latest budget setting the tone for the rest of his term may reflect the heaviest on the next mid-term elections. With economic recovery moving at a snail’s pace, putting the American family back in a successful position is a landmark issue. Democrat efforts in writing bills establishing them as the fairness party have so far failed with every Republican blockade.
“Millions of American workers will be watching how each senator votes today. To them, it’s a matter of survival,” Majority Leader Reid said before the vote.
The legislation by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator of Iowa, was intended to raise the federal $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over a 30 month period in gradual increments, plus automatic annual increases accounting for inflation. Democrats argue that if fully in place in by 2016, it would have pushed a family of three above the federal poverty line, which has not been seen since 1979.
Republican opposition to the bill is that it would cost employers many jobs, stemming from the Congressional Budgetary Office study in February that showed if the bill was passed it would cost 500,000 jobs, but the potential for much better income of 16.5 million low earners. Democratic support stems from the fact that minimum wage is not worth what it was 50 years ago, when it actually had buying power equal to inflation rates.
Some Republicans said they would approve the bill at a compromise of a lower wage than $10.10, but democrats have yet to budge an inch on the requested figures.
The bill was voted 54-42, six votes short of the 60 democrats would need for full approval. The vote instead resulted in favor of allowing debate to continue on the issue. The only democratic “no” vote was Majority Leader Reid’s, which is a procedural move allowing for him to call another vote on the issue in the future as planned.
-Curt Cramer (@CurtisRemarc)