FAIR MINIMUM WAGE ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - January 26, 2007)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, the Republican majority in the previous Congress was prepared to raise the minimum wage. In fact, the House of Representatives passed an increase in the minimum wage and the Senate tried to pass an increase in the minimum wage. The difficulty was that Democrats ended up blocking passage because they did not like the fact that the minimum wage was attached to other provisions last year. The minimum wage was attached to some very significant provisions--tax extenders, modification of the death tax--and our good friends on the other side didn't like the way it was packaged and therefore prevented its passage.
The last time the minimum wage passed, back in 1996, and President Clinton signed it, he praised the minimum wage, particularly because it was packaged with tax relief and regulatory relief for small businesses. So it has been the practice of the Congress, under both Republicans and Democrats, for a minimum wage to be passed in conjunction with other matters. In fact, my good friend, the majority leader, has advocated that and supported the package that came out of the Finance Committee, even though every Member on the other side of the aisle voted, in effect--by voting to invoke cloture--voted in effect for a clean minimum wage yesterday.
With regard to how much time we have taken on this bill, we didn't have any votes last Monday, and we are not having any votes today on minimum wage, even though we did vote to confirm General Petraeus, which we certainly should have done. We have not had that much time on the bill.
I think my good friends on the other side of the aisle are having a hard time adjusting to being in the majority in the Senate. The price you pay for being in the majority in the Senate is, in order to complete bills, the minority gets votes. I remember my good friend and colleague, the Democratic whip, saying the Senate is not the House. Our new occupant of the chair, in his first couple of weeks in the Senate, is learning already that the Senate is not the House.
In the Senate, virtually every bill has numerous amendments. The majorities are always frustrated because minorities get their votes before moving to final passage. I have said to my friend the majority leader on several occasions over the last few hours that I was hoping that we could have some more amendments on this minimum wage bill before moving to its inevitable conclusion. It will end up similar to the ethics bill last year, passing with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. But there are still some other important amendments that our side would like to offer, and we will be discussing those amendments and how our Members feel about that in the next few days.
At some point in the not too distant future, an increase in the minimum wage, in conjunction with tax relief for small business, will pass the Senate on a very large bipartisan basis.
I yield the floor.