2014 Midterms

Reid Schedules Senate Vote For Minimum Wage Hike

Source: David Becker/Getty Images North America

Source: David Becker/Getty Images North America

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote for Wednesday to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, matching President Obama’s executive order from earlier this year raising the federal employee minimum wage to the same rate.  The vote is highly unlikely to pass, given that Democrats must get 60 votes to open debate on the legislation.  The legislation, which was proposed by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), has wide-partisan report except for only one Democrat of the 55-member caucus who is expected to vote against the measure: Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas).  The move is seen as a political vote to give Democrats the upper-hand with working class Americans against Republicans in the 2014 Midterms.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday set up a long-shot Wednesday vote on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Senate Democrats will need 60 votes to open debate on the legislation written by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to gradually increase the wage and eventually peg it to inflation — a level of support that appears unattainable.

Democratic aides expect as many as 54 members of the 55-member Senate Democratic caucus to support the procedural vote Wednesday, with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) predicted to vote against. That party unity will be a key cog in Democrats’ election-year plans to portray Republicans as against working Americans by opposing the $10.10 rate, which the GOP says will result in widespread job loss, citing a report by the Congressional Budget Office earlier this year.
A failed procedural vote might pay political dividends for Democrats by creating a contrast with the GOP — but it doesn’t get low-paid workers any closer to a pay bump. The $10.10 proposal has broad opposition among the GOP and there is little appetite among Republicans to even debate the bill, despite outliers like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

“I can’t imagine not wanting to debate the best way to improve wages in America,” Corker said earlier this month.

One wildcard is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate willing to compromise on the bill. Collins has been seeking a middle ground that’s more than the current wage of $7.25 and below $10.10 with some business-friendly provisions, but has yet to unveil her proposal to Democrats.

Reid would probably frown on her package anyway: He’s said repeatedly that he will not support a rate lower than $10.10 an hour, a wage that Democrats say is the minimum needed to get low-income workers out of poverty.

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