Reid punts on minimum-wage hike

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that a vote to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will not take place for another three weeks.

Reid initially scheduled floor action on the hike for March 6. Democrats then aimed to bring up their bill, a centerpiece of the party’s 2014 campaign platform, during the current work period that ends Friday.

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Now it will wait until after Congress concludes a two-week recess. Lawmakers will return the week of April 28.

Reid said there were other things that needed to be done in the Senate, but the delays also highlight Senate Democrats’ inability to gather their caucus’s 55 votes in support of the wage hike.

“I have a lot of other things that I’m going to do,” Reid said Tuesday. “I have lots of nominations we’re going to move on as early as probably today, so we’ll have to have a ton of votes before the week’s out.”

The Senate will vote Wednesday on the motion to proceed to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to reduce the pay disparity between men and women. It is expected to fail on a party-line vote.

Reid said he will then proceed to President Obama’s pending nominees.

Some centrist members of the Democratic caucus are exploring a possible compromise with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to raise the minimum wage to something below the $10.10 endorsed by Obama and most Senate Democrats.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has said he will oppose a minimum-wage boost to $10.10 an hour.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said legislation raising it to around $9 an hour would have a better chance of passing Congress.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said she supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour but wants more debate on the timeline for doing so and how to address wages for tipped workers such as restaurant servers.

“I do not believe that $10.10 an hour is too high to aspire to, but how quickly we get there and what increments, the tipped wage, how that should be handled, who should get paid the tipped wage and who shouldn’t. There are a lot of questions about that, and some of those discussions are going on,” she told The Hill last week.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he is willing to negotiate with Republicans on rates and the length of the phase-in period.

Pryor, Landrieu and Warner are running for reelection this year.