On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to table legislation raising the minimum wage. The legislation was supposed to be on the table on March 6, but now it has been delayed until after the March recess of March 14-24.
Reid’s action came after a Congressional Budget Office report released last week said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could cause the economy to lose 500,000 jobs by late 2016. Since the report was released, some Democrats have indicated they don’t support the raise, which was supposed to be the linchpin of the 2014 election for Democrats.
Only 32 of 55 senators who caucus with Democrats have signed on as official co-sponsors of Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill. Without any GOP votes, the bill will not pass on the Senate floor.
Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), who faces a difficult reelection campaign, won’t vote for the legislation. Other naysayers include Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (La.). EvenSen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who is not facing a reelection campaign, wants to keep any level of the minimum wage lower than $10.10.
Barack Obama originally proposed a $9-per-hour minimum wage, but some extremist Democrats bitterly opposed it, including Harkin and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), so the White House reproposed the $10.10 plan. Reid himself dismissed the idea of aborting the $10.10 plan, saying, “Not with me.”
Reid blustered that the GOP was to blame. He said, “The obstruction continues and it slows things down. We’ve also been hampered by trying to get an extension of unemployment benefits. The slowdown has been a result of continued obstruction.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said of the proposed hike, “You couple that with CBO’s estimate of 2.3 million fewer jobs created under ObamaCare and you’ve got a pretty big hit on an economy that is already suffering from way too much joblessness. The last thing we need to be doing right now in our country is passing legislation that destroys even more jobs.”
A coalition of forces supporting the bill aver that they need more time to drum up support. Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, said, “I think most of the advocates who are working on this are also working on unemployment insurance and hoping to have a little more time so everyone has every resource they need to make the right decision and vote yes on minimum wage bill.”
Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United for Change, said, “Sen. Reid’s announcement is welcome news to those of us who are working to mount a national campaign to give America an overdue raise.”
Reid was confident of ultimate victory, boasting, “People have a right to vote however they want. But it makes it a little tough [to oppose] around here when you have companies like Gap, [which has] 65,000, 75,000 employees who’ve just done it. They’ve raised the minimum wage already. It’s happening all over the country.”
Gap Inc. has announced it will adopt an hourly minimum wage of $10.