Democrats Consider Smaller Minimum-Wage Increase

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

Leaders Say They Will Negotiate With Republicans if Higher Rate is Defeated.

Senate Democrats, currently lacking the votes needed to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, are opening the door to talks with Republicans about a smaller wage increase.

Senate leaders said they wouldn’t take such a step until their chamber votes on a Democratic bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25, and index it to inflation. That vote could come as soon as next week. If the effort fails, Democrats said, they might consider a smaller increase.

“If we reach a level where we don’t have the votes to pass it, then we have to be open for conversation about what it might look like in the future,” Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) told reporters.

Sen. Susan Collins, a centrist Republican from Maine, said Wednesday she was speaking with lawmakers in both parties about a plan that would raise the minimum wage more modestly, during a three-year period, to a level that she wouldn’t specify.

Increasing the minimum wage is a cornerstone of Democrats’ political message as they seek to motivate the party’s core voters and to retain control of the Senate in this fall’s midterm elections.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) hasn’t discussed passing a smaller increase with other Democratic leaders, said a senior party aide.

The minimum wage was last increased in 2009.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):