Reid: GOP doesn’t want to debate minimum wage

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Republicans don’t want to debate increasing the federal minimum wage because they know their opposition goes against the public will.

“Republicans are not anxious to come down here and talk against raising the minimum wage,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They should join us in giving every American a fair shot in providing for their families.”

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On Wednesday, the Senate is expected to vote on whether to end debate on a motion to proceed to S. 2223, Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

Democrats will need at least five Republicans to join them to overcome the first procedural hurdle, but that seems unlikely since no Republican has come out in support of the measure.

Republicans and vulnerable Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) cite a Congressional Budget Office report that Harkin’s bill would harm job growth.

“American people want Congress to focus on one thing above all else — jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. “[But] Democrats are pushing legislation that would actually cost up to 1 million American jobs.”

Some Senate Republicans are instead supporting a smaller increase to $9 an hour, proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but the House is unlikely to take up even that measure. Instead House Republicans and conservatives in the Senate want to pass “job” measures such as the SKILLS Act, which consolidates federal job training programs.

Liberal Democrats are sticking with the $10.10 an hour number because they say it would lift all full-time workers out of poverty.

“Do we value all American workers and reward them with at least a baseline wage to provide for their families?” Reid said. “It’s not fair that working Americans and their families are being stripped of the American dream.”