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Bankruptcy Abuse Pevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I understand I only have a couple of minutes, so I will be very brief. I want to speak on the issue of minimum wage. I know the Senator from Massachusetts has offered this amendment on the minimum wage to this package. I will be opposing the Kennedy amendment and will be offering an alternate to this amendment. But let me explain first why I oppose the Kennedy amendment.

First, it doesn't belong on this bill. Even the amendment I will offer as an alternative does not belong on the bill. I have spoken to Senator Kennedy and others about what I believe is the appropriate place for this discussion. That is the welfare reform bill. It will be a bill that will come here and have a lot of amendments and it focuses on how we help those who are transitioning from welfare to work, how we help them and give them the support they need to be able to have work that pays well enough for them to get out of poverty. I think this discussion fits best, and I would argue has the better chance of actually ending up in a final bill and being sent to the President, on the welfare bill as opposed to here, which I think everyone recognizes is a bill that has been worked on for years and years and years.

We have a bill that has bipartisan support, with the hope of trying to get this to the President at a propitious time. So I would make the argument, No. 1, first and foremost I would oppose the Kennedy amendment on that ground.

Second, I suggest----

Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator yield for a question on that part?

Mr. SANTORUM. I only have about 1 minute and I am happy to yield to the Senator from Massachusetts for a brief question.

Mr. KENNEDY. I offered the amendment on the TANF bill last year and the bill was pulled because it was offered as an amendment. So that is part of our frustration.

Mr. SANTORUM. I respect the Senator from Massachusetts. I think there is a little different environment. I think there is a broad group who will deal with the reauthorization of welfare and deal with that and get a bill passed and sent to Congress this year, and you will certainly have my support trying to get that done in a fashion that I believe reinstates work requirements, which have fallen off because of the drop in the welfare rolls across America.

The second reason I oppose the Kennedy amendment is because the increase is too dramatic at this point. We are talking about an over $2 increase, over a 40-percent increase in the minimum wage. While I do support a modest proposal, something about half that amount, I think that is the wise thing to do in this economy, which is not to put a jolt of that nature into what is already a concern about inflation. To be able to put that kind of minimum wage increase in I think would fuel inflationary fears. It would have strong negative repercussions in our economy, broadly.

While I do understand the need now that it has been almost 8 years without a minimum wage increase, I think what I will be offering is a modest one that comports with and will fit within this economy. We do some things to address the issue of small businesses, which the amendment of the Senator from Massachusetts does not do.

We don't want to disproportionally affect those poor communities, or hurt the small business neighborhood store or cleaners or whatever the case may be that is trying to make ends meet by putting this kind of increased cost on them as high as the Kennedy amendment would be, or even as high as what I would suggest, without some sort of relief to compensate very small businesses. I think that would be unwise and it would hurt the community. We want to help by providing more resources. Increasing the minimum wage does not help those small businesses in that community. I think it would have a bad, overall negative effect on the very poor communities of our society.

I see my time is up. I yield the floor.

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