Hoyer: Republicans Must Quit Playing Political Games with the Minimum Wage

Democrats Call for a Fair Up-or-Down Vote

For Immediate Release:

July 28, 2006

Contact:Rep. Steny Hoyer

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement this evening on the House floor in opposition to the Republicans’ cynical attempt to play political games with the minimum wage:

“Mr. Speaker, no Member of this House should harbor any illusions about what the Republican leadership is doing today.  Today, the Republican leadership is engaging in a political stunt, a cynical sham, and a cruel ploy to undermine a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage – an increase that would benefit literally millions of American workers and their families.
          
“Democrats have continually fought for a “clean,” up-or-down vote on increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour over two years – the first increase in the minimum wage in nine years. And, we continue to fight for one today. The fact is, I believe a majority of the Members of this body support an increase in the minimum wage – even if the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the majority of House Republicans do not.

“On June 12, the Appropriations Committee adopted, on a bipartisan vote, an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill that would increase the minimum wage by $2.10 per hour over two years.  In response, the Republican leadership has refused to bring that Appropriations Bill up for a vote.

“And, on July 13, 64 Republicans joined all Democrats in indicating their support for increasing the minimum wage by voting for a Democratic motion to instruct on the Vocational Education Improvement Act. But instead of providing for a fair up-or-down vote on the minimum wage, the Republican leadership today has combined an increase in the hourly rate with an estate tax cut that will benefit the heirs of the wealthiest estates in America and drive our nation hundreds of billions of dollars further into debt.

“If nothing else, Mr. Speaker, this bill tells the American people precisely where the Republican Party’s priorities lie.  Their priorities lie with Paris Hilton and the other heirs of the super-wealthy – not the hard-working Americans who are trying to scrape by on $5.15 per hour.
          
“Mr. Speaker, this Republican bill reeks of cynicism. It’s a political stunt designed to give vulnerable Republicans in tough elections the opportunity to say they voted to raise the minimum wage – even though they know this bill is going nowhere in the Senate.

“I implore the Republican leadership: Stop playing games with the minimum wage. Let the Members of this House consider an increase in the federal minimum wage on a straight up-or-down vote. Vote ‘no’ on this martial law rule.”
 

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