Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour by 2009. The increase passed as an amendment to the Labor-HHS spending bill after seven Republicans — Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), John Sweeney (R-NY), Ray LaHood (R-IL), Don Sherwood (R-PA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), James Walsh (R-NY), and Bill Young (R-FL) — broke ranks to pass the increase.
The right wing objected to the move on the grounds that the committee “shouldn’t be legislating on an appropriations bill.” (They forget how Sen. Frist (R-TN) and Rep. Hastert (R-IL) did exactly that last year when they slipped liability protections for vaccine makers into a defense spending bill.)
The “next step” for the bill would have been for the House Rules Committee “to decide whether to ‘protect’ the amendment as part of the bill,” followed by a floor vote on their ruling.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who offered the amendment along with Rep. George Miller (D-CA), told ThinkProgress he was planning to fight attempts to take the increase out of the bill. “If there is an attempt to strip the amendment on procedural grounds,” he said, “we will fight back for the American people. The minimum wage is now at its lowest level in 50 years, and hardworking American families deserve a fair, livable wage.”
But now it looks like the vote will be delayed indefinitely. CongressDaily reported yesterday that “the bill would not reach the floor next week” and “there is a chance it would not come up even the following week, and possibly not at all.”
Conservatives are clearly afraid to be on the record opposing a minimum wage increase at a time when 83 percent of Americans support such a move.