By JASON RUSSELL • 3/30/15
The Senate voted down a budget amendment calling for a “substantial increase” in the federal minimum wage Thursday, with 52 votes against and 48 votes in favor. A simple majority of 51 votes was required for passage.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced the amendment to the Republican budget resolution, and it was co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the only Republicans to vote in favor.
“I’d urge my colleagues to vote no,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said during floor debate. “This isn’t the proper place for this. It can be done as regular legislation at any time. This budget resolution is focused on balancing the budget in 10 years … Over a million new jobs could be created if our budget took full effect. That will create competition for employees. That will drive up wages. The minimum wage was designed to be a training wage that teaches people how to show up for work on time and how to learn a job before transitioning to new jobs. And those that do get advanced really quickly.”
Sanders, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee argued in favor of his amendment. “People working full-time should not be living in poverty,” he said. “Since 1968, the real value of the federal minimum wage has fallen by close to 30 percent and people all over this country and in state after state on their own have voted to raise the minimum wage. … In state after state where the minimum wage has gone up, more jobs have been created. Let us stand today with the tens of millions of workers who are struggling to put food on the table.”