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.
What We're Following See More »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”