A proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 died in the Senate on Wednesday, when Democrats failed to gather the 60 votes required to bring it to a clean vote. The only Republican to vote in favor of ending debate and holding a vote was Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., initially voted to move the bill forward, but switched his vote to “no” as part of a parliamentary maneuver which will allow him to bring the legislation back to the floor at a later date.
Reid made clear that the legislation would soon resurface in a tweet published shortly after the vote.
Even if the proposed minimum wage hike cleared the Senate, there it was little chance it would ever receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled House. Yet recent polling shows growing popular support for raising the minimum wage, making Wednesday’s vote into a political win for the Democrats. Nearly the full Senate Republican caucus is now on record opposing a wage hike which most Americans support—a fact which Reid has not shied away from since the vote. In a press conference following the bill’s failure, he blamed the billionaire businessmen, Charles and David Koch.
“They’re fighting for billionaires,” he said. “We’re fighting for people who are struggling to make a living.”
President Obama made the minimum wage bill’s value as an electoral football even more explicit during a press conference held a couple hours after the vote. He urged supporters of a wage hike to put pressure on Republican legislators in the run-up to the 2014 midterms.
“If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you’ve got to let them know they’re out of step,” he said. “And if they keep putting politics ahead of hardworking Americans, you’ll put them out of office.”
Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to pivot away from the minimum wage issue by talking about job creation in more general terms. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that Wednesday’s vote demonstrates “the D.C. liberal establishment is completely out of ideas” and doesn’t “even pretend to be serious about jobs anymore.”
“So it’s time for Washington Democrats to drop the tired ideological approach that’s failed so miserably the last five and half years.,” he said. “It’s time for them to work with Republicans to boost job creation and start helping the Middle Class for once.”