OVERNIGHT MONEY: Wage hike tops House Dem agenda

FRIDAY'S BIG STORY: 

Wage hike focus: President Obama is heading out to Maryland's Eastern Shore on Friday to chat with House Democrats about his party's top economic priorities.

A hot topic is likely to be a House Democratic push to force Republicans to consider a minimum wage increase. 

Obama mentioned it again this year in his State of the Union address and Democrats have been talking about it for the last year or so.

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At their annual retreat on Thursday, Democratic leaders said they will introduce a discharge petition later this month with the aim of gettng enough support to force House Republicans leaders to take it up. 

Still, the plan faces an uphill battle because Democrats will need 18 Republicans to back it, a major hurdle for the initiative. 

Thursday on Twitter, congressional Democrats pressed for the increase — most want to see wages boosted to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. 

But lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), also made a separate push to raise the $2.13 tipped minimum wage, which has been stuck in place since 1991. 

Brown said he submitted a Senate resolution on Thursday aimed at boosting wages earned mostly by restaurant servers. 

Public opinion polls show strong support for raising the minimum wage, giving Democrats some backing in their effort to put tough votes in front of Republicans ahead of the midterms.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that he didn't have a head count of who in his party would back the petition but predicted it will be "close to everybody."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats will continue to examine issues that address the growing “opportunity gap.”

"The difference ... in our approach is that we understand that the American people are not fully participating in the prosperity that some are enjoying in our country — not any part of it,” she said. “We understand; the Republicans are indifferent."

Vice President Biden was scheduled to talk to Democrats on Thursday but had to cancel his visit because of the massive snowstorm that hit the Washington area overnight. 

Obama is set to meet with House Democrats on Friday before taking off for California to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Cantwell takes helm of Small Business: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) will take the helm of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in a musical chairs game of committee changes.

The former chairman, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), will take over at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who shifted over to Finance after former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) got the nod to head to Beijing to be the U.S. ambassador to China.

Cantwell has been a member of the Small Business panel since 2001.

"Small businesses are the engine of economic growth in America,” Cantwell said. "We need to help small businesses grow jobs through export opportunities, increased access to capital and promoting innovation."

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Export Prices-Import Prices: The Commerce Department releases its January report tracking trends in exports and imports, with the export data worth watching for indications of how the global economy is faring. Imports provide an indication of domestic demand, but given the severe lag of this report relative to other consumption indicators, it is not particularly valuable.

Industrial Production-Capacity Utilization: The Federal Reserve will release its January report showing the physical output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities. The monthly report also provides a measure of capacity utilization.

Michigan Sentiment: Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan will release its measure of consumer sentiment for February. 

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Wyden wants to talk fast-track with Dems

— Wyden: GOP leaders to blame for tax reform gridlock

— New home sales surge in January

— Jobless benefits applications up 8,000

— Warner gets open slot on Finance

— Stores, banks team up to fight hackers

— Global group crafts new tax evasion rules

— Winter storms blamed for flat January retail sales

— GOP hits Obama on Medicare Advantage

— GOP irked as WH budget data delayed

— Up next, flood insurance relief

 

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