Dem women demand wage hike

A contingent of female Senate Democrats made their case Thursday for a hike in the federal minimum wage, saying the current rate is disproportionately relegating women to poverty.

Last increased more than three years ago, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour. The Senate is expected to take up legislation in March that would raise it to $10.10 by 2016, though congressional Republicans have voiced opposition on grounds that an increase could stifle economic growth.

Few sectors of the workforce have more at stake than women, who represent nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage earners, according to 11 female members of the Senate’s Democratic ranks.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance MORE (D-Wash.) urged her GOP colleagues to do some “soul searching” before the vote, saying the outcome would affect some 15 million women.

“Are they prepared to tell one in four women in America ... that $7.25 is enough to provide for themselves and their kids?” Murray asked.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced plans to issue an executive order that would effectively lift the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 for employees of federal contractors.

During his State of the Union address, he called for measures to improve pay equality for women.

“It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode,” he said

Raising the minimum wage for all employees would require congressional action.