Fresh off a two-week Easter break, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wasted no time Monday laying the groundwork for a promised Democrat-backed minimum wage increase proposal that could see a floor vote as early as this week.
Media observers are viewing the inevitable vote on Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill, which would increase the mandatory Federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, as an election-year sacrificial lamb with little chance of actually succeeding before Congress.
The Wall Street Journal’s Siobahn Hughes wrote Sunday that the bill is likely to be defeated in the Democrat-majority Senate, and is almost certain never even to be brought up in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Instead, Democrats who go down swinging with the bill are expecting their staged failure to boost their prospects among potential voters once the primary season moves on toward this year’s general election.
“A March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 58% of people would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, while 29% would be less likely,” Hughes wrote. But “[s]ome people rethink their support for a minimum-wage increase when told it would result in job losses, a poll conducted for Bloomberg News in early March found.”
That could mean Democrats will see diminishing political returns from any collapse in a minimum wage bill before the party primaries take place, since the minimum wage issue isn’t meant to drive a wedge between incumbent Democrats and their party challengers, but between incumbent Democrats and the Republican challengers – most of whom smell blood in the water – they’ll have to face in November.
Nevertheless, Reid moved on Monday to file cloture on Harkin’s bill, clearing it a path for a floor vote as early as Thursday. It would take at least five Republican crossover votes in the Senate to ensure a victory.