Democrats Fail to End Filibuster by GOP on Minimum Wage Bill
Senate Democrats failed Thursday to cut off debate on a controversial minimum wage bill and accused Republican leaders of following White House orders to filibuster against a raise for the nation’s lowest-paid workers.
GOP senators denied the charge and countered that their delaying tactics are “extended educational dialogue” needed to work out a compromise on the proposed increase in the federal minimum wage from $3.35 an hour to $4.55 over three years.
Unless the impasse is broken, it may tie up the Senate indefinitely and jeopardize the passage of other politically popular legislation in the final days before Congress adjourns in mid-October.
Another move to shut off debate is scheduled today but the odds appear to be against its success.
Seven Votes Short
An effort Thursday by Senate Democratic leader Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia to halt debate on the measure fell seven votes short of the 60 needed. Only three Republicans joined with 50 Democrats in voting for cloture.
Assistant GOP Senate leader Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming warned that members of his party will continue to resort to delaying moves until Democratic leaders allow votes on some of the 24 judgeship nominations submitted by President Reagan that are still awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
“There is a deliberate attempt to stall on this bill,” Byrd said. “Economic justice for 15 million wage-earners at the lowest rung of the economic ladder is being held hostage to a political agenda on the other side of the aisle.”
But Senate Republican leader Bob Dole of Kansas countered: “There’s no urgency about this bill.”
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), floor manager of the legislation, said that the Senate Republicans apparently are out of step with Vice President George Bush, the GOP candidate for President, who has said that he favors some increase in the minimum wage.
“Now we know what this filibuster is all about,” Kennedy said. “He (Dole) is going to sacrifice justice for 16 million Americans for certain appointments of this Administration. That is their job creation program--more appointees.”
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