Republicans Block Vote on $10.10 Minimum Wage in U.S. Senate
By Cheryl Courtney-Evans, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News. Photograph courtesy of Americans United for Change.
(APN) ATLANTA — During a noontime vote in the U.S. Senate yesterday, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, a vast majority of Senate Republicans blocked the opportunity for the Senate to vote on an increase in the minimum wage of U.S. workers from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour.
The cloture vote was strictly down party lines, with the Democrats, Independents, and one Republican voting “yea,” while nearly every Republican in attendance voted “nay,” in a vote of 54 to 42.
This blocked the sixty votes needed to actually bring the bill to the floor for a final vote, as a cloture vote is intended to bring debate on the motion of a bill to a filibuster-proof close.
The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was 2007, following Democratic successes in the 2006 midterm elections. Atlanta Progressive News followed this closely at the time.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said the vote presents “a moral question.”
“That is, how could lawmakers who have supported their own wage hikes in previous sessions of Congress vote against a better wage for those on the low end of the scale?” he said.
“Today, a minority of U.S. senators blocked a minimum wage increase that a strong majority of the American people supports,” U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a statement after the noontime vote. “In so doing, they have rejected a long bipartisan tradition of rewarding hard work with a fair wage.”
“Today, Republicans voted to deny millions of hard working Americans the long overdue pay raise they deserve. With this latest act of obstruction, Republicans have once again spotlighted their utter disregard for working people in our nation… We need to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. No one working a full time job should have to raise their family in poverty – yet this is precisely what Republicans are choosing to continue, voting seven times to block an increase in the minimum wage in the House. It is time for Republicans in Senate and the House to stop standing in the way of fairness for working people, and join with Democrats to give America a raise,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
“Today’s vote is another sad chapter in the history of obstructionism in the U.S. Senate. Raising the minimum wage for 28 million American workers should be a no brainer, yet a minority of Senators prevented it from going forward… It’s important to remember that the minimum wage has fallen far behind inflation as productivity has risen, yet workers have been unable to share in the fruits of their labor because corporations are hoarding profits and holding down wages,” Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said. “Some Senators may disagree, but people who work full-time should be able to support their families and live off their wages. Simply put, America needs a raise.”
“Republicans have turned their backs on poor and middle class Americans… they have told them, ‘You’re on your own’, without looking them in the eye,” President Barack Obama said.
It is expected that the minimum wage will be an issue in the coming midterm elections.
A letter was released on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 by the Economics Policy Institute (EPI), citing 75 economists (7 of whom are Nobel Laureates), that argues that the government should hike the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016, and then peg future increases to inflation.
According to a December analysis from the EPI, during the initial phase-in period of the $10.10 raise, the U.S. economy would grow by $22 billion, and create 85,000 new jobs.
Breakdown of the vote Wednesday in the Senate is as follows: (Three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.)
Reid (D-NV) [later changed his vote to “nay” in order to preserve right to reconsider]
Meanwhile, in related news, the Give America a Raise 20-state bus tour arrived in Atlanta, at the IBEW building.
In attendance were candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Connie Stokes; State Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker); State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell); and Charlie Flemming, President of the North Georgia Labor Council.
“The more money a worker has, the more money they can spend in their local economy. Increasing the minimum wage would see 570,000 Georgians with more money in their pockets,” Flemming said.
These local leaders were joined by local labor leaders, low-wage workers, paycheck fairness advocates to call on U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and U.S. Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Paul Broun (R-GA), and Phil Gingrey (R-GA) to support the Harkin-Miller bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10.
“Today we call on Georgia to be a leader in the right direction. We can help families not worry about eating, having shelter, or buying books for their children. I’m proud to join Georgians in calling for a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10,” Rep. Wilkerson said.