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Senate Republicans block minimum wage increase bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Wednesday against going ahead on a bill that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, another rejection for legislation that has been a major focus of the Democrats' 2014 midterm campaign.

The final vote count was 54 to 42, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who supports the legislation, taking the procedural step of voting against the bill so he can reintroduce it later.

In a news conference after the vote, top Democrats vowed to reintroduce the bill this year.

They needed to amass 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. But they swayed only one Republican — Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — to vote for it. Even if the measure had passed in the Senate, the chances that a minimum wage increase widely opposed by the GOP could make it through the Republican-run House of Representatives this year seemed improbable.

But the bill is part of the Democrats' broader "Fair Shot for All" midterm campaign, so they are likely to continue to push the minimum wage through the fall, banking on its popularity among voters to lift their prospects. Democrats argue they are the party looking out for average Americans while Republicans are the party of special interests.

"By preventing even a vote on this bill they prevented a raise for 28 million hardworking Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty," President Barack Obama said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "They told Americans like the ones who are here today that you're on your own."

Senate Republicans block minimum wage increase bill 04/30/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:33pm]
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