Senate Democrats say they won’t have enough support tomorrow to move forward legislation raising the federal minimum wage, and plan to hold more votes on the measure before the November congressional election.
“We’re going to keep bringing it back,” New York Senator Charles Schumer, the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, said today.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a procedural vote tomorrow on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. President Barack Obama called for such an increase in his State of the Union address in January.
“If it fails on Wednesday, it’s coming back,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, told reporters today. “We will bring it back. We will not surrender.”
No Republicans have said they support the measure, and a few Democrats have expressed concern that $10.10 an hour might be too high. Among them is Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who has said he won’t support the bill.
Pryor, who is seeking a third term this year in a state Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won by 24 percentage points in 2012, remained in Arkansas yesterday and today to assist with recovery efforts following deadly tornadoes there on April 27. It was uncertain whether he would be present for tomorrow’s vote.
Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Tom Carper of Delaware are among the other Democrats who have expressed reservations about raising the wage to $10.10 an hour.
Landrieu has since said she will support the measure and Manchin said today he would vote to advance the bill, S. 2223.
Landrieu and Warner are seeking re-election this year in competitive races.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has ruled out considering a level below $10.10 an hour, even as Senator Susan Collins has been working to build support for an alternative that would include a smaller increase. No Democrats have publicly signed on to that effort by Collins, a Maine Republican.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said today that his party would oppose the wage proposal because it “would actually cost -- not create but actually cost -- up to a million American jobs.”
“This is completely tone deaf,” said McConnell, who is seeking a sixth term in November. “Their bill would cost up to 17,000 jobs in Kentucky alone, and apparently this is what Senate Democrats have made their top priority.”
A February report by the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s nonpartisan research arm, said the Democratic plan may cost as many as 500,000 jobs while lifting about 900,000 people out of poverty.
The measure’s chief sponsor, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, told reporters today that support for the wage increase could build in subsequent rounds of votes as the public becomes more aware of the issue. Polls show widespread support for raising the minimum wage.
“I think more and more people are going to be talking about this in local communities, and we’ve got a lot of businesses on board now that think this is the right thing to do,” Harkin said. “So yeah, I think the pressure’s going to mount.”