Thursday, February 01, 2007

Senate Democrats Hammer Through Minimum Wage Hike

The celebration must be starting in the offices of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) right about now.

Just moments ago, by a resounding vote of 94-3, the United States Senate passed legislation raising the Federal Minimum Wage for the first time in a decade. The legislation increases the minimum wage over two years from the current $5.25 per hour to $7.25, after years of pushing by Kennedy and Senate Democrats and, most recently, eight days of fighting with Republicans, who proposed over 100 business-friendly amendments to stall the vote.

"Passing this wage hike represents a small but necessary step to help lift America's working poor out of the ditches of poverty and onto the road toward economic prosperity," said Kennedy after the vote.

Now the measure goes to conference so that both houses of Congress can reach compromise on the House version of the minimum wage increase -- that went through as clean, standalone legislation -- and the Senate bill that required Democrats to agree to $8 billion in business tax cuts to avoid a lengthy Republican filibuster.

That will work itself out but, for now, this is a huge victory for working Americans and for everyone who voted for change in November.

The United States Senate is very much a collaborative place and it's often difficult to cite one particular Senator who made a piece of legislation happen -- this is not one of those cases. Ted Kennedy has been working on this for years and has fought at every available opportunity to help the working poor in America, including having three attempts at raising the minimum wage shot down in the previous,
Republican Congress.

Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for a difficult job very well done.

Update: Here's the three who voted against the working poor once again.