Friday, February 02, 2007

Senate Democrats On Minimum Wage Increase

Here are some comments from Democrats after the near-unanimous vote in the Senate Thursday to raise the Federal Minimum Wage:

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

“Today’s vote was not a victory for a bill – it was a victory for the American people. The minimum wage is one of the great achievements of our democracy. It’s a clear reflection of our values, and a solid cornerstone of the American dream. It’s about the kind of country we want to be.

"Americans want to live in a country where everyone has opportunity and the chance to succeed – where anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can build a better life for their family. By passing this bill, we have added dignity to the lives of millions of working families. 13 million Americans will see more in their paychecks for the first time in a decade. They will have more dollars to spend on the essentials of life, and more hours to spend with their families. Six million children will have better food, better health, and better opportunities for the future.

"Americans understand fairness, and they know that this is unfair. After years of delay and inexcusable inaction by Congress, the American people finally declared enough is enough. They took the battle into their own hands, and launched a grassroots movement that spread across the nation like wildfire. They pounded their pavements. They prayed in their pews. And they went to the ballot box and held their elected officials accountable for failing to raise the minimum wage.

"After 10 years of stalling and 9 days of debate, the time has finally come to vote on an increase in the minimum wage. We will finally have the opportunity to take one step closer to the kind of country we want to be – where no one who works for a living has to live in poverty. “

Harry Reid (D-NV)

"In less than one month, Democrats in both the House and Senate have kept yet another one of their promises to move America in a new direction and we will continue to do so. For the first time in 10-years, Congress voted to in a bipartisan fashion to increase the minimum wage. In the time since the last minimum wage increase, household costs have risen – including the price of gas, the price of food, and the price of health care.

"Even the salary of Members of Congress has increased – eight separate times, by $31,000. This increase is long over-due and with today’s vote, we have given hard working Americans, struggling to get by, the raise they deserve."

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

“I voted today to raise the minimum wage for working families because it is fair and smart, and above all because it is right. Our lowest paid workers have seen the purchasing power of their wages decline even as their health care, housing, education, and energy costs skyrocket, and it is long past time that we help them make ends meet. Now that both the House and the Senate have approved this wage increase, it is up to the conference committee, and then President Bush, to act quickly so that we can make this law.”

Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“Congress has been talking about a minimum wage increase for ten years. Talk is cheap but the cost of living isn’t. Congress is now a step closer to delivering relief to millions of hard working Americans stuck at $5.15 an hour.

“The average CEO earns more by lunchtime on any give day than a fulltime minimum wage worker earns in a year. Raising the minimum wage isn’t just an economic necessity, it’s a moral obligation. It will help lift millions of families out poverty and give them hope.”

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

"I was extremely pleased to join my colleagues today to pass legislation to increase the federal minimum wage. I have been a strong supporter of an increase in the federal minimum wage for many years, and I was glad to see the Senate finally do its part to support hard-working Americans."

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

“Raising the minimum wage is a much needed step toward bringing more social and economic justice to our country. This legislation is 10 years overdue and the delay has been unconscionable and unacceptable. We’ve taken a step today toward better compensating many hard-working Americans. While it’s been long coming, I applaud the bill’s passage and look forward to the President signing it into law.”

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

“It’s been years since Congress passed an increase in the minimum wage, and millions of American workers deserve a long overdue raise. I’m very glad that the new majority made increasing the minimum wage a top priority and that we were able to move it through the Senate so quickly.”

Ben Cardin (D-MD)

“Here in the richest nation in the world, millions of hard-working Americans still live in poverty and are unable to provide for their families. I believe that is wrong and we as a nation must do better. The minimum wage doesn’t just affect high school students. It disproportionately affects women and minority workers. The American dream must be a reality for all American families.”

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

“It’s been nearly 10 years since we increased the minimum wage. A substantial number of people in North Dakota and across the country are at the bottom of the economic ladder, and we need to provide them with some help. Today’s passage of the minimum wage was the right thing to do.”

John Kerry (D-MA)

“This vote is welcome news to Americans who work hard each and every day, and are trying to raise families as the cost of living continues to soar. This wage increase is long past due – minimum wage workers haven’t had a raise in 10 years even though Members of Congress’s salaries have risen $30,000 in that same period. Thankfully, with Democrats now in charge of both houses of Congress, Republicans could not prevent us from enacting this critical legislation.”

Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

“Today, Democrats delivered on our commitment to give working families the pay raise they need and deserve. This is a real victory for millions of working families who have waited for ten long years for Congress to act.

"This is the first of many opportunities we will have in this Congress to raise the living standards of our hardest working Americans. I am eager to work with my colleagues to advance a Democratic agenda that invests in our children and families and creates opportunity again for all of our families. Increasing the minimum wage is a tremendous down payment on that investment.”

Chris Dodd (D-CT)

“Today, by an overwhelming vote of 94-3, the Senate approved a $2.10 raise in the federal minimum wage, providing an additional $4,400 per year to the millions of hard-working men and women who are helping fuel our economy and keep our nation strong. With the rising costs of housing, food, energy, healthcare and education, this modest raise will allow millions of Americans a chance to provide a better life for themselves and their families.”