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Senate republicans refuse floor debate on minimum wage increase

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On Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Senate Republicans shot down with a 54 – 42 vote an attempt to open floor debate on the raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, refusing even a Senate discussion on ways to alleviate the plight of millions of Americans who, despite working full-time jobs, find themselves in poverty.

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act is designed to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 an hour over a two-and-a-half year period, then tie future minimum wage increases to inflation increases going forward.

Adjusted for inflation, the present $7.25 minimum wage has a fraction of the purchasing power it once had.

The yeas and nays were straight down party lines, with 52 democrats and two independents voting for the bill and 42 republicans voting against the bill. Three republicans, Boozman of Arkansas, Cochran of Mississippi and Wicker of Mississippi and one democrat, Pryor of Arkansas, did not vote while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) changed his Yea vote to a Nay vote in a procedural measure in order to be able to bring the bill back up for another vote at a later time.

Sixty votes were required in this non-Constitutionally-mandated cloture procedural vote prior to the final simple majority vote required by the Constitution. Had this been a simple majority vote, the bill would have passed.

The sponsor of the bill is democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. The legislation also includes 37 democratic and independent co-sponsors.

An increase in the minimum wage would reduce the necessity for low income working Americans to rely on government sponsored programs like food stamps and Medicaid for their basic survival. Though the GOP platform is strictly against governmental programs to help alleviate the plight of the poor, republicans are also opposed to insuring the right for millions of Americans to earn a living wage through hard work.

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