A minimum-wage increase won’t have the vetting of a committee vote before it comes to the Senate floor, likely in February, a key lawmaker in the debate said Tuesday. The decision to keep a hot Democratic campaign issue out of committee is designed to limit the number of “embarrassing amendments” Republicans can offer.
“We decided not to do it in committee but to come directly to the floor,” said Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is sponsoring legislation to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in three annual increments. “Then they get to offer all kinds of embarrassing amendments and stuff in committee, and why do it twice? Do it once.”
The decision to bypass deliberation in committee will do nothing but inflame Republicans, who were smarting with anger at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday after the Senate voted 60-37 to proceed to final passage on an unemployment insurance bill.
“It’s totally dictatorial,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who decried Reid’s tactics in ramming the bill to extend long-term jobless benefits down Republicans’ throats without committee consideration or amendments. “He won’t allow a single amendment. How can we negotiate?”
“It’s all political,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., of the unemployment vote. “Unfortunately, the Senate is starting the new year they way the ended up last year” — with bills being placed on the floor without ever being considered in committee. “The Senate has become a one-man show, and that man is Senator Reid guided by the White House,” he said.
Republicans are squirming under the tough tactics that Democrats are using to pressure them to vote for legislation that gives benefits to jobless or low-wage workers. Six Republicans joined with all Senate Democrats and independents on an unemployment extension to give the chamber the necessary 60 votes to complete the legislation, which would extend long-term benefits until March 31.
“I’m not comfortable at all. I’m tremendously uncomfortable,” said McCain of his “no” vote on the unemployment bill. But, he added that he can’t in good conscience vote for legislation that he has had no say on.
Cue up the same protests for the minimum-wage debate, which will again put moderate Republicans in a tough position. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of Americans favor a minimum-wage increase. Republican lawmakers generally oppose minimum-wage hikes, citing burdens on small businesses and a drag on employment. Politically, however, those arguments fall flat with the general public.
Republicans could try to minimize the damage of opposing a minimum-wage increase by proposing to winnow down the size of the increase to, say, $9 per hour instead of $10.10. But that would require an amendment process, and one of their chances at offering amendments — in committee — has disappeared.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."