“Millions of American workers will be watching how United States Senators vote today. They’ll be observing to see if we ensure all full-time workers in this country receive livable wages.”
“ Charlie and David want a ‘no’ vote. Absolutely no one was surprised yesterday when Americans for Prosperity, the radical, Koch-funded political organization, instructed Republicans in Congress to vote against a minimum wage increase.”
“When it comes to helping working-class families, Republicans in Washington are echoing what the Republican leader declared last week in Kentucky – ‘it’s not my job.’ But it is their job. And it’s my job. It’s the job of every Member of Congress.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the need to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Later today the Senate will vote to begin debate on an increase of the federal minimum wage. Millions of American workers will be watching how United States Senators vote today. They’ll be observing to see if we ensure all full-time workers in this country receive livable wages. And for Republicans, this vote will demonstrate whether they truly care for the American economy. Republicans have fashioned themselves for years as the defenders of the economy. Congressional Republicans have told the American people that they are the party of jobs and financial prosperity. How shocking then that Senate Republicans are not supportive of legislation to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour? What is preventing my Republican colleagues from giving working Americans a fair shot, knowing that almost 75% of Americans support an increase?
If Americans are searching for an answer, they should look no further than Republicans’ billionaire benefactors, the Koch brothers. Charlie and David want a ‘no’ vote. Absolutely no one was surprised yesterday when Americans for Prosperity, the radical, Koch-funded political organization, instructed Republicans in Congress to vote against a minimum wage increase. And just in case any of their followers in the Senate were to experience a change of heart and be inclined to vote for an increase, the organization has warned that it will score today’s vote. Or in other words, when it comes time for the Koch brothers to play the role of Santa Claus, Republicans should know that Charles and David are making a list and checking it twice. So even though nearly 75% of Americans support this legislation, and our economy stands to profit from a wage increase, the will of the Koch brothers seems to be the top priority for Republicans. Today Former Governor Tim Pawlenty – considered by many people to have been the best nominee for President during the last election cycle – came out strongly and said “I believe that the minimum wage should be increased.”
To add to the Republican’s theater of the absurd, the House of Representatives Budget Committee is holding a hearing today on poverty in America. You will recall that Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was once a candidate for Vice President, running on a ticket that labeled 47% of Americans as moochers not deserving of Republicans’ attention. Representative Ryan himself has even called struggling Americans “takers.” Taking into account his well-documented disdain for hard-working Americans trying to feed their families, I am anxious to learn how Representative Ryan plans to help eradicate poverty. Maybe he’ll need to check with the Koch brothers first, as it seems he did with his recent budget proposal.
While House Republicans hold hearings and Senate Republicans do nothing, Senate Democrats are doing something. We continue to propose meaningful legislation that gives American families a fair shot at prosperity. But Senate Republicans assert that increasing the minimum wage will not help working families. This assertion is not only wrong, it is illogical. Twenty-eight million Americans stand to benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. I repeat, nearly 10% of all Americans stand to gain from the legislation before us today. Republicans assert that boosting the minimum wage would hurt businesses and slow down our economic recovery. Once again, that assertion is wrong and illogical. Researchers at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank have found consumer spending increases dramatically following a minimum wage hike, and businesses reap the benefits of a minimum wage increase. This minimum wage legislation is good for American workers, businesses, and the economy. But Republicans refuse to even allow us to debate the issue, signaling instead their intention to filibuster minimum wage legislation.
When it comes to helping working-class families, Republicans in Washington are echoing what the Republican leader declared last week in Kentucky – “it’s not my job.” But it is their job. And it’s my job. It’s the job of every Member of Congress. Today we have a real opportunity to get behind our hard-working constituents and show them that we are attentive to their needs. I urge my Republican colleagues to join us and give American workers a fair shot at the American Dream, by ensuring that they are paid a livable wage. Because at the end of the day, our job is to give every working American a fair shot at providing for their families. No welfare. Just a job.