Warren set to headline labor event on raising wages

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll 2020 Democratic candidates support Las Vegas casino workers on debate day Sanders takes lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll MORE will headline a labor union event on wages early next month, adding her influential voice to a Democratic economic priority.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who has landed a spot in party leadership and has stuck closely to the issues that got her elected, may be signaling that she is expanding her populist economic message amid calls for her to consider a 2016 presidential run. 

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On Jan. 7, Warren is slated to deliver the keynote address at the AFL-CIO's national summit on raising wages for middle-class workers that will include remarks from Labor Secretary Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE and the group's president, Richard Trumka, along with analysis from business and policy experts on the issue.

Through her brief tenure in the Senate, Warren has been a staunch supporter of protecting consumers and keeping a close eye on Wall Street's behavior.

With her new political capital, Warren's support for the issue could raise the minimum wage debate's exposure, even in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Warren watchers say she has been able to wield considerable influence on the issues she takes up — from building a coalition of opposition against a Treasury Department nominee to fighting a provision in the "cromnibus" funding bill that she argued would weaken the Dodd-Frank financial law. 

In fact, Warren's profile rose so much this year that she is being pressed to consider a run for president in 2016, overtures that she has, so far, rejected. 

Warren's newfound clout could bolster the Democratic economic message especially with the loss of Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa), a liberal champion of higher wages, to retirement. 

While congressional efforts have stalled on the issue, 20 states and the District of Columbia will see minimum wage increases on Jan. 1, affecting 3.1 million workers. 

Warren could take up Harkin's mantle and join forces with other Democrats such as Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who is slated to become the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In 2013, Warren suggested that the minimum wage be raised to $22 an hour. But she hasn't been heard from much since then on the issue, which got a push from the White House but fell off the congressional radar amid partisan gridlock on major fiscal issues. 

Harkin had pushed for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and said he wouldn't get into a nickel-and-dime debate that would reduce the rate below that level.