House Democrats plan on using a procedural maneuver to force the Republican-led House to vote on a federal minimum wage increase.
“We believe the minimum wage is absolutely critical to lift people so they can be full participants in this economy,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Thursday.
After the House returns from its President’s Day break, Democrats plan to file a “discharge petition” to force a vote on their proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. If a majority of the House’s 435 members -- regardless of party affiliation -- sign a discharge petition, it would force a vote on the bill in question. Democrats would need all of their members and around 20 Republicans to sign onto the petition.
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Democrats plan on making the minimum wage increase a key issue in this midterm election year. The idea has strong popular support -- a December Washington Post poll found two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage, while a recent Gallup poll showed 76 percent in favor.
President Obama has aggressively pushed Congress to take up the bill while doing what he can unilaterally. Earlier in the week, he signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all new federal contract workers.
Republicans in Congress, however, have resisted the idea.
“When it comes to the federal minimum wage, listen, I used to be an employer,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in late January. “When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it. And we know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs. And so the very people the president purports to help are the very ones who are going to get hurt by this.”