Iowa Senator Tom Harkin vows to continue pushing his bill to raise the minimum wage, even though it was defeated Wednesday in a procedural vote, with all but one Republican voting against it. Harkin, a Democrat, says his bill would gradually raise the federal wage from seven-25 an hour to ten-ten over a period of 30 months. “Yesterday’s vote was an important first step but only the first step,” Harkin says. “I intend to bring my bill to the floor again and again until American workers get the raise they deserve and that our economy needs. Yesterday was the beginning of our fight to raise the minimum wage, not the end.”
The minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2009. Harkin says if the wage had been adjusted for inflation all along, it would now be at $10.70. “Raising the minimum wage is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do to make people’s lives better,” Harkin says. “In one stroke, by raising the minimum wage to $10.10, we can lift incomes for some 28-million people, including 306,000 Iowans.”
Harkin’s measure also calls for automatic annual increases in the wage to offset inflation. He says that element, and the ten-ten figure, are non-negotiable though Harkin says he’s open to compromise on other issues. “We will not go below $10.10 because that means you’re saying people who work full-time all year long will still be below the poverty line,” Harkin says. “We’re not going to accept that and $10.10 just barely gets you above it.”
Wednesday’s vote was 54-to-42, which was six votes short of the 60 needed for the measure to continue moving forward.