Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) promised to quickly pass an increase in the minimum wage if Democrats gain control of the Senate. In a conference call with reporters, Kennedy, joined by Senator John Edwards (D-NC) and labor leaders, said, “Let’s get a Democratic Senate, and I’ll do my damnedest to get this out in 24 hours,” CQ Today reports. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is expected to be the House Majority Leader if the Democrats win the majority in Congress, has also promised to prioritize a raise in the minimum wage if House Democrats regain control.
This summer, legislation that included a minimum wage increase failed. The bill (HR 5970) passed in the House, but was defeated in the Senate when Democrats opposed it for being tied to tax breaks for businesses and a $750 billion estate tax give-away, measures that only benefited the wealthiest Americans, not minimum-wage workers. At $5.15 an hour, the minimum wage has not been raised since 1997.
Senators Kennedy and Edwards also commented on the minimum wage ballot initiatives that are on several states’ ballots this November. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio will decide whether their states will increase the statewide minimum wage. Edwards said, “I think [these ballot initiatives] will motivate some people to come to the polls that maybe are tired of politics, maybe tired of politicians, but know this is a basic moral issue,” CQ Today reports.
LEARN MORE about minimum wage and other initiatives on the November 7 ballot in the Fall 2006 issue of Ms. magazine.
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