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Harkin Statement on Republican Obstruction of Long-Overdue Increase in the National Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, issued the following statement today after Republicans obstructed Senate consideration of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, a bill he introduced to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps, then provide for automatic, annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. It would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which currently stands at just $2.13 an hour, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. Read more about the bill here.

“I am disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked my minimum wage bill from moving forward. But not as disappointed as the 28 million workers who would have seen a raise and as the 14 million children whose parents would have benefited. I am not as disappointed as the 15 million women—many of them working parents—who would have had additional income to buy clothes and food for their families. I am not as disappointed as the business owners who would have benefitted from local workers having more money in their pockets to spend. And I am not as disappointed as the American people, who support this bill by overwhelming margins and have been calling on their elected leaders to give America a raise.

“I know many are wondering if now is the time to compromise. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am always open to discussion on how to best get this bill to the President’s desk.  But we cannot compromise on $10.10, which is a wage that will lift working families above the poverty line.  We cannot compromise on helping tipped workers get their first raise in twenty years.  And we cannot compromise on indexing the wage to inflation.  I cannot and will not support a bill that traps a full-time worker and his or her family in poverty. That’s not good for our country or our economy. 

“America needs a raise. Today’s vote was only a first step.  I plan to bring this issue up again and again until American workers get the raise they deserve.  This is the start of our fight on minimum wage, not the end.”