Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Federal Minimum Wage Increase Bill Fails

On April 30, 2014, the United States Senate rejected a motion to end debate and force a final vote on the so-called Minimum Wage Fairness Act---a legislative cause celebre for the Democratic Senate majority and House minority, to say nothing of the Obama White House. The Bill would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over a period of three years. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the contemplated wage increase, if passed, would affect the wages of over 16.5 million Americans, 900,000 of whom would rise above the poverty line. While Democrats focused on this estimate, Republicans pointed to the the Budget Office's second point, that passage of the wage-hike could result in the loss of nearly a million jobs because employers might not be able to afford to pay the increased salaries.

          Because of the nature of the Senate motion, at least 60 votes were necessary to end debate and bring the bill to a vote. The vote, however, split almost exactly along party lines, 54-42, with four Senators not voting: both Senators from Mississippi, Cochran (R) and Wicker (R), as well as both Senators from Arkansas, Boozman (R-AR) and (surprisingly, perhaps) Pryor (D). Only one Republican, Senator Corker of Tennessee, voted in favor of advancing the bill to a final vote. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, switched his vote from yes to no, but only so as to preserve the right to raise the bill again.

          Last year, on March 15th, House Republicans voted unanimously against this same wage increase, added as a final amendment to a job-training bill. The vote rejecting the amendment was 184-233, and every Republican (227 Congressmen) voted no.
Click here for a comparative chart of State minimum wages, 
maintained by the United States Department of Labor.