US Senate Can’t Muster Even Modest Minimum Wage Increase

Jon Queally, staff writer –

The effort to bring national low-wage to $10.10 is on verge of defeat

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Nationwide, progressive activists have been making a bold call for a dramatic increase to the minimum wage. In the US Senate, however, Democrats say they can’t even get enough votes to pass their $10.10 minimum wage bill.

According to Gallup, the historic approval rating of raising the minimum wage is close to 75%. Despite that consistent public support, however, even soft-ball efforts to increase the stagnant level of low-wage pay have faced constant opposition in Congress. The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has been flat-lined for nearly forty years and that widespread income and wealth inequality has been shown to harm the overall economy, but neither of those facts have been enough to overcome the opposition of the powerful interests that maintain their grip on both political parties in Washington.

An admittedly weak bill by progressive standards, the bill now in the Senate, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), is expected to be defeated in a procedural vote on Wednesday according to numerous reports.

According to The Hill:

Despite an intense push by President Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans haven’t budged and will reject the measure that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The procedural roll call to advance the bill is expected to fail on a party-line vote, short of the 60 votes needed.

The legislation is coming up for a vote after weeks of delay, but a multipronged pressure campaign against Republicans has failed to fracture the GOP — in sharp contrast to prior election years.

Though supported by a majority of Americans in poll after poll (after poll), an increase to the federal minimum wage has faced continued opposition by armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington.

The Associated Press reports:

[Harkin’s] legislation is opposed by business groups including the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the International Franchise Association. The National Restaurant Association has hundreds of members at the Capitol this week lobbying lawmakers on several issues, including opposition to a higher minimum wage.

Also opposed were conservative organizations including Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers are spending millions this year to unseat congressional Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his allies are casting them as unfettered villains.

Wednesday’s vote seemed sure to add minimum wage to a scrap heap of Democratic bills that had a shared theme of economic fairness.

Others that have splattered against GOP roadblocks would restore expired benefits for the long-term unemployed and pressure employers to pay men and women equally. Democrats plan future votes on bills easing the costs of college and child care.

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