Arizona's Republican U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, helped kill Democrats' proposal to increase the federal minimum wage in a procedural vote today.
Their votes weren't exactly surprising, as only one Republican senator voted with the Democrats to proceed with the bill.
The bill, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour (Arizona's is $7.90 an hour), has had heavy backing from President Obama, who gave a speech at the White House today blasting Republicans from letting the bill go forward:
After 14 months since I've called on Congress to reward the hard work of millions of Americans like the ones who we have here today to raise the federal minimum wage, we saw this morning a majority of senators saying "yes," but almost every Republican saying "no" to giving America a raise.
They blocked a bill -- sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman George Miller, who is right here in front. A bill that would have gradually raised the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for 28 million hardworking Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty -- and keep in mind, this bill would have done so without any new taxes, or spending, or bureaucracy. They told Americans like the ones who are here today that "you're on your own" -- without even looking them in the eye.
We know these Americans. We depend on them. The workers who'd benefit from a minimum wage increase often work full-time, often in physically demanding jobs. They average 35 years of age. Most low-paying jobs are held by women. But because Republicans in Congress said "no" to even allowing a vote on the floor of the Senate, these folks are going to have to wait for the raise they deserve.
Obama said Democrats in Congress would keep fighting the minimum-wage issue, and also asked people to lobby their congressmen to support reinstatement of recently cut unemployment benefits.
You may recall during the 2008 presidential race that then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden blasted McCain for voting against the minimum wage 19 times at that point.
McCain later responded by saying that he's for a living wage for all Americans, and, "I'm for the minimum wage increases when they are not attached to other big-spending pork barrel."
The text of the bill (which can be found here, and doesn't take more than two minutes to read) doesn't include any "pork."
Flake, on the other hand, has spoken out against minimum-wage increases before, so his vote is even less surprising.
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