CAMBRIDGE, Md. –
As the minority party in the House, Democrats cannot set the agenda for when bills are brought to the floor. So they will use a procedural tool known as a discharge petition to bring up their proposal to raise the minimum hourly pay to $10.10.
"While some people consider this the do-nothing
Democrats will file the discharge petition when the House returns to session after the Presidents Day week recess, and begin seeking the required 218 signatures to bring it to the floor.
Few discharge petitions are successful, and this effort faces a steep climb. Even if all 200 Democrats sign on, getting even a handful of Republican votes seems unlikely. There is little Republican support for raising the minimum wage.
But Democrats signaled they may use the procedural maneuver more often than usual this year to try and shape the election-year conversation.
Some lawmakers have discussed using the procedure to advance the Senate's
Republican leaders in the House initially indicated they were open to tackling the issue this year, but after rank-and-file members rebelled, they reversed course and tamped down the likelihood they would take up even a piecemeal effort.
House Minority Leader
"We see as a first rung in that ladder raising the minimum wage," she said. "We see another rung in that ladder of passing comprehensive immigration reform. And we want to do so appropriately, in the presence of so many stakeholders in that issue. So that will be coming soon."
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, is expected to call a vote on a minimum wage increase soon. But given how few Republican senators face difficult reelection bids, the issue may have more potency in the House.
"While some of them have said no, many of them have said they're open to it. So we're going to give them an opportunity now to put their signature where their statements have been," he said.