GOP Senators Block Minimum-Wage Hike But Democrats Vow to Try Again

WASHINGTON (Tribune Washington Bureau/MCT) -

A top election-year proposal from Democrats — a bid to raise the federal minimum wage — was rejected by Republicans in the Senate, who blocked legislation Wednesday to boost the rate to $10.10 an hour.

President Barack Obama has turned the plight of the nation’s low-wage workers into a battle cry for Democrats as they try to appeal to voters while the economy continues to sputter. Several states have advanced their own wage hikes amid congressional inaction.

“It’s time for Republicans in Congress to listen to the majority of Americans who say it’s time to give America a raise,” the president said before the midday vote.

However, the effort made little headway with Republicans, who argued that the rate hike would cost jobs. The measure was blocked by a GOP filibuster on a party-line vote, 54-42.

The proposal would have initially boosted the minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour, to $8.20, then again in 95-cent increments over two years to $10.10.

One Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, joined Democrats to advance the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted against the bill as a procedural move, enabling him to bring the legislation back for another vote — which Democrats have vowed to do to continue pounding the issue before the November election.