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WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today at a press conference with the House and Senate Democratic Leadership on the misplaced priorities of the Rubberstamp Republican Congress:
"There is perhaps no better example of how this rubberstamp Congress has the wrong priorities than the minimum wage. There is bipartisan support in the House and Senate for raising the minimum wage. And more than 80 percent of the American people support an increase. The only ones standing in the way of a minimum wage increase is this rubberstamp Congress.
"Republicans think it is much more important for the wealthiest few estates in America to get another tax break. So they held a minimum wage increase hostage to a virtual repeal of the estate tax. That's right, Republicans made a couple thousand wealthy heirs a top priority, and treated millions of hard working Americans who haven't gotten a raise in almost a decade as an after thought. Ladies and gentlemen, Paris Hilton does not need another tax cut!
"Raising the minimum wage is an issue of fairness. It's an issue of values. It's an issue of doing what's right. The minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years when adjusted for inflation. It has been 9 years since the last increase -- the second longest period since it was enacted. A minimum wage increase would benefit 6.6 million low-wage workers - most of whom are adults who work to support themselves and their families.
"This week, I, along with George Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, Representatives Leonard Boswell and John Barrow, sent a letter to the 48 Republicans who asked Majority Leader Boehner in July for a minimum wage vote. We urged them to follow their words with action and sign the discharge petition that would force a fair up and down vote on an increase. Not a single one has stepped up and signed.
"This issue clearly illustrates the different priorities of the Democratic and Republican parties. Democrats are focusing on the working men and women of this country. Republicans are focused on rubberstamping President Bush's agenda. Democrats believe that Americans are ready for a new direction, one that includes an increase in the minimum wage."