NATIONAL — Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill on Wednesday that would boost the $7.25 hourly federal minimum wage to $10.10 over 30 months, handing a defeat to President Barack Obama and 16.5 million low-income workers.
Democrats hope the vote will reverberate in this year’s congressional elections, but Republicans are still preedicted to maintain control over the House and some observers predict the GOP might gain in the Senate.
The measure’s rejection will slow the recovering economy and impact most on poor working families, the latest setback for economic fairness in a nation racked by economic inequality.
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would have gradually raised the $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months and provide automatic annual increases to account for inflation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to ‘no’ at the end to preserve his right to call for reconsideration if a deal is struck to pass the measure.
Democrats Bob Menendez and Cory A. Booker, the Senators for New Jersey, both voted to approve the wage increase.
“President Obama put forth a clear vision and a common sense plan of action to move all of our country forward by increasing the minimum wage,” Menendez said earlier in the year. ““We are strongest when we work together, when we act on the things that matter to ordinary families and when we recognize the strongest economy is one that works for everyone.”
Booker said hurting low income working families will have a terrible impact on the nation.
“Because of child poverty, our nation loses out on the talent and ingenuity of millions of people,” Booker said. “Allowing the American child to grow up in poverty makes victory impossible. We will not win by being cheaper. We win by being better.”
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