Hoyer and Miller to GOP Leadership: Don't Play Political Games with Minimum Wage

New Analysis Shows Past Republican Efforts to Poison Wage Increases

For Immediate Release:

July 27, 2006

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican leaders in the House and Senate have a long history of trying to poison efforts to raise the national minimum wage by making wage increases contingent on passing other harmful measures – such as ones that hurt workers or drive up the budget deficit, according to a new analysis released by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) today.

 Democrats in the House and Senate have been fighting to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour – which it has been since 1997 – to $7.25 per hour. Only recently have Republican House leaders begun to indicate that they may submit to intense pressure from Democrats and the public and allow a minimum wage increase. A vote may occur as early as tomorrow.

 But if the past is any guide – and based on what Republicans have said recently – Republican leaders will likely couple legislation to provide a minimum wage increase with other provisions that could hurt American workers. For example, Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH), the Chair of the Republican Conference, said recently that Republican leaders were likely to “put together a package” to increase the minimum wage, rather than simply allowing a straightforward vote on whether or not to raise the minimum wage to $7.25.

 “This issue is really as simple as it gets. Do you support increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, or don’t you? Do you believe that Americans should receive a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work, or don’t you?” said Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The issue is so basic that Democratic legislation to raise the minimum wage fits neatly onto just one and a half pages.

 “Yet as they have done in the past, Republican leaders may choose to deny America’s lowest paid workers a straightforward vote on whether or not they deserve a raise,” said Miller. “American workers deserve a fair vote on a minimum wage increase, not a vote on a bill that’s larded up with harmful provisions.”

 “Democrats have been pushing for years for an increase in the minimum wage,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “Now it appears that Republican leaders may finally give in and allow a vote on the House Floor tomorrow.  However, there is reason to be concerned that Republicans will try to link an increase with ‘poison pill’ provisions as they have done in the past as this report by Education and Workforce Committee Democrats shows. 

 “Congress should not hold hostage a pay raise for hard working Americans,” said Hoyer. “There is a bipartisan majority in the House that supports an increase to $7.25 and we should have a fair up-or-down vote.  In addition, a vote in the House is not the end of the road and Democrats are determined to continue this fight until we enact this increase into law.  This is simply a matter of doing what is right and just.”

 To see the analysis, visit: http://edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/pdf/poisonpillparade.pdf.

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