A bill to raise the US minimum wage, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month without amendments, is in its fifth day of debate in the Senate. Republicans are stalling the bill's passage by proposing a number of amendments. Yesterday, a cloture motion requiring 60 votes to end the floor debate failed, gaining only 56 votes.
"Why can't we do just one thing for minimum wage workers, no strings attached, no giveaways for the powerful?" Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-MA) told the Associated Press in response to the vote.
The House version of the bill, which passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, would raise the minimum wage from $5.15-an-hour to $7.25 by 2009, and include the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, a US territory hitherto exempt from US minimum wage laws. A minimum wage increase was one of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) six goals for the first 100 hours of Congress. She calculates that, of the 13 million people who would likely benefit from such an increase, 26 percent would be parents, 36 percent would be people of color, and 59 percent would be women.