Reid: Minimum wage vote may slip

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Tuesday that consideration of minimum wage legislation might slip until the week of April 14, foreclosing the possibility of a vote this week.

Reid says the Senate will now turn to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to promote pay equality between the sexes, before moving to a vote on raising the minimum wage.

“Next week, unless something goes wrong, we’re going to have a vote on Paycheck Fairness. And it’s undetermined at this stage whether we can have a vote on minimum wage. It’s according to how much Republicans stall us,” he said.

Senior Democratic leadership aides said last week and Monday they hoped to vote on a motion to proceed to the minimum wage bill Thursday.

A Democratic aide said Reid has decided to put the Paycheck Fairness Act ahead in the queue so that it will coincide with a speech that President Obama plans to give on the issue next Tuesday, which the administration has proclaimed Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day reflects how far into the current year women must work to match the earnings of men from the previous year, according to the Department of Labor.

Reid originally scheduled the bill for consideration on March 6, but Democrats have debated internally over whether the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 an hour or something lower.

Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent, is the only Democrat to say he will oppose the $10.10 proposal.

But other Democrats, such as Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Tom Carper (Del.), have expressed interest in reaching a bipartisan compromise that could pass the Senate. So far, not a single Republican has endorsed a minimum wage hike to $10.10.

“I strongly support an increase in the minimum wage, but I think there are legitimate questions about phase-in periods, legitimate questions about rates,” Warner said Tuesday.

He said the minimum wage needs to be increased “in a responsible way.”