Minimum Wage in the War-Spending Bill?

Why are Democrats attaching a completely unrelated minimum-wage provision into the Iraq war supplemental? What exactly does increasing the minimum wage have to do with providing our troops the money they need to protect themselves from Iraqi insurgents?

I have two answers: politics and partisanship.

First, the Democratic leadership is trying to trip up moderate Republicans who might want to vote to support an increase in the minimum wage but don’t want to surrender in Iraq. And since they know the president will veto this bill, they can get him on record vetoing a minimum-wage bill when he already said that he would sign one.

I can already see the 30-second ads in my mind. Congressman Joe Blow votes to increase his own pay but votes against increasing the pay of minimum-wage workers. We have seen this ad before, but it hasn’t been included in a war supplemental before. This is a new level of cynicism.

Second, partisanship. The new Democratic majority can’t put together the votes to pass a minimum-wage conference report or a wartime supplemental without resorting to these kinds of shenanigans because they have decided to go it alone. No input from any Republican. No effort to get Republican support. A new version of the majority of the majority.

We were promised something different when the Democrats retook the Congress for the first time in a decade. Instead, we get strange bills, where the minimum-wage increase, the top priority of the Democratic leadership, is slipped into the most controversial and arguably most important piece of legislation that this Congress will act on this year, the emergency supplemental that support our troops in wartime.

The Democrats should vote on the minimum wage separately. It shouldn’t be included in a supplemental.

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