"Republicans needed 60 votes to advance their bill, which links a $2.10 increase in the $5.15 federal minimum wage over three years to reductions on estate taxes next decade. Passed by the House last Saturday, the bill got a 56-42 vote, four votes short of succeeding.The vote was essentially along party lines with the exception that Democrats Joe Lieberman [D CT] and Max Baucus [D MT] are listed as not voting, and extremely interesting - Bill Frist [R TN] voted Nay along with the Democrats.
For Republicans, the combination could have neutralized a Democratic campaign issue while also advancing an estate tax cut, a priority that may have an uncertain future if the GOP loses seats in Congress in the November election.
The GOP strategy put Democrats in an uncomfortable position. Either they could vote against the bill -- thus rejecting a minimum wage increase -- or they could vote for it -- thus agreeing to cut taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. Most rejected the bill, blocking a GOP victory months before the election. [Snip]
Republicans were dealt a blow when two Democrats, Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both of Washington, announced they planned to oppose the GOP's bill.
"This is a cynical ploy on the part of the Republican leadership in an election year," Cantwell said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, had tried repeatedly this year to repeal or reduce the estate tax, derided as the "death tax" by its opponents."
Here is the list of who voted which way from the U.S. Senate website.
Grouped By Vote Position
|McConnell (R-KY) |
|Menendez (D-NJ) |
|Not Voting - 2|
|Baucus (D-MT)||Lieberman (D-CT)|
Apparently Bill Frist's vote with the Democrats is a parliamentary ploy that may allow him (as Senate Majority Leader) to bring the bill back up for vote again this session. The other votes with the other party appear to be related to tight election races in November as do the two Senators who did not vote.
Still, the cynical bill the House sent to the Senate is really a typical Republican effort to play politics rather than to legislate items badly needed by the nation. It's been a decade since the minimu, wage was increased, and Congressmen and Senators have gotten nearly 40% pay raise during that period just to keep THEM up with the cost of living. People who actually work for a living certainly deserve as much.