Minimum Wage Bill Blocked in Senate

The Senate today voted (54-42) to block consideration of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S.2223), denying higher wages for millions of Americans, including a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos, women, and LGBT workers. The bill needed 60 votes in order to advance to a vote on the Senate floor.

The vote was also contrary to what a majority – 73 percent – of Americans favor: a raise in the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t happened since 2007 when President George W. Bush signed an increase into law.

“Raising the wage is a popular idea with bipartisan support that would help to lift working families out of poverty and expand the economy for everyone. By filibustering this bill, a minority of Senators are denying 28 million hard-working Americans a better shot at a decent living for themselves and their families,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “A minimum wage hike has been a defining issue for civil and human rights advocates since before the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

The bill would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 in three increments, adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living, and raise the minimum wage for tipped workers – a figure that has been frozen for more than 20 years.

In his State of the Union address this year, President Obama urged mayors, governors, and state legislators to raise their minimum wages. Without federal action, states are responding – creating a patchwork of minimum wages throughout the nation.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y., pledged on the Senate floor ahead of the vote that, like unemployment insurance, they would continue to bring the bill up again and again until it passes.

“But this is only the beginning of a longer term effort to pass the Minimum Wage Fairness Act,” Henderson said, echoing that sentiment. “As long as the cost of living is going up and wages stagnate, pressure will only continue to grow on Congress to finally catch up to popular opinion and raise the minimum wage.”