Democrats fumed over a Senate block of a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) claiming six Republicans “rushed to defend Dave and Charlie, the Koch brothers.”
The cloture vote to move the bill failed 54-42.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the lone Republican to vote for cloture. Four senators didn’t vote.
“So let’s think about that for a minute. Republicans are defending very publicly, six of them, at least, the Koch brothers while they come to the floor and oppose raising the minimum wage,” Reid told reporters after the defeat. “If the same number of Republicans voted with us, we would have minimum wage. So I would suggest that’s what they should do. Contrast could not be clearer. Raising the minimum wage is so important.”
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the vote was making a statement “on how much we value work.”
“If work is a virtue, and people who get up and go to work, I think, are the most virtuous people in the world, then for goodness sakes, why don’t we give them an adequate wage so that they can raise their families and be part of tomorrow’s future?” Durbin said.
“You know, they can trot out economists on each side of this issue. There are economists on both sides. But everyone knows it’s a moral issue that if you work 40 hours a week, you should be able to provide a Christmas present for your kid,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “…This bill is going to come back and come back until we get it done, because the lady with the statue — the statue of the lady with the torch in the harbor of the city I live demands it.”
“This shows whose side you’re on. Our whole fair shot agenda, the middle class is aching. We believe our colleagues on the other side are paying attention to the people who don’t need help. God bless them, they became very successful,” he added. “The minimum wage, even if it doesn’t affect you and your family, is an issue of basic fairness… And we believe our Republican colleagues will eventually see that and have to come around to our side even if they don’t feel the morality that we all feel about this.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) countered in a floor speech that the Republicans have a “better way” of raising incomes than raising the minimum wage.
“A minimum wage increase is said to benefit low-income Americans, but only $1 in $5 from an increase will go to families below the poverty line. And that is not all. In addition to cutting 500,000 jobs and providing 80 percent of the benefits to families above the poverty level, the Democrats’ jobs proposal imposes one more burden on the only Americans who are capable of solving this problem, and that is the job creators,” Alexander said.
“On the most important issue facing the country, surely we can do better than the stale, bankrupt idea we will vote on this week that according to the office that we’re supposed to trust for advice, the Congressional Budget Office, says would No. 1: Destroy 500,000 jobs; No. 2: Concentrate most of the benefits on those above the poverty line; No. 3: Make it more expensive to create jobs; and No. 4: Tax only some taxpayers for a policy designed to benefit the entire society.”