Senate Democrats indicated yesterday that they’re going to apply the “war on women” meme to efforts to raise the minimum wage.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) held a press conference to ask, in Murray’s words, “Are Republicans really going to block giving 15 million American women a raise?”
“Right now, a mom who is working full time at a minimum wage job to support her family earns just $290.00 per week. That is $15,000 per year. That is below the poverty line for a single mom. At a time when 400 families — and listen to this one, 400 families control as much wealth as 150 million Americans — we must do more to lift families out of poverty and expand opportunity for all,” Boxer said.
“Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Two-thirds of tipped minimum wage workers are women. And in two-thirds of America’s families, women are the bread winners, or the co-bread winners,” she added.
The group is throwing its support behind Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in three increments between now and 2016.
“For many of the women making the minimum wage, they actually work two jobs to hold body, soul and that family together. They’ll work the day shift in order to make one wage. And then they often moonlight with a part time job at night to be able to make up even the difference to barely make ends meet,” Mikulski said.
“Are they prepared to tell one in four women in America that $7.25 an hour, which is only enough to buy a couple gallons of gas, is enough for them to support themselves and their kids?” Murray asked of Republicans. “Are they prepared to do that at a time when more and more women are depended upon today as the sole income earner in American families? And if they are, what does blocking a minimum wage increase say about their priorities when it comes to American women?”
“Telling American women that they don’t deserve a living wage isn’t about tone or about how they talk about women’s issues, it’s about what they do. It’s about policy,” Murray continued. “So my hope is over the next month that our Republican colleagues do a little soul-searching as they prepare for this vote. And I hope they talk to the millions of American women who like my own mother, became the sole bread winner in my family and the caretaker of my father and had to pay to make sure her family was okay.”
Warren noted that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) was also part of the group, but she was presiding over the Senate at the time of the press conference.
“Families headed by women are getting hammered even harder and are barely hanging on,” Warren said.
Murray said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has committed to bringing the minimum wage bill to the floor in early March. She said the $10.10 starting point will be non-negotiable.
“I can’t imagine why we would want to say to any of these women or men who are impacted, well no we’re going to — we’re going to negotiate a little bit lower than that,” Murray said.