Washington, DC — Continuing their fight ensure the minimum wage is increased before Congress gets a raise, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today called on Bush Republicans in Congress to put the needs of hard-working men and women across the country ahead of their own wallets. It is time for a new direction, and while Bush Republicans in Washington aren’t listening, Democrats will be heading home over the July 4th Recess to talk to American people.
The minimum wage has not been raised in nine years, but last week Bush Republicans in the Senate yet again rejected increasing it. For the last 9 years, anyone working 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year–without a single day off–earned just $10,700. In the same period members of Congress have given themselves a $31,600 raise. At a time when they are struggling with high gas prices, high health care costs, and the high cost of college tuition, Democrats believe hard-working Americans deserve fair pay.
“For two years, Republicans have given us a 21st Century ‘Do Nothing Congress,’” said Senator Reid. “They’ve ignored high gas prices, they’ve ignored the crisis in health care, and they’ve ignored the issue of stem cell research so they can cater to the needs of their political base with issues like flag burning and marriage. It seems the only way to get the Republicans’ attention is to put their own self-interest on the line. So that’s what Democrats have done with the minimum wage. From now on, it’s a raise for America’s workers before a raise for Congress.”
Senator Durbin said, “Every day, millions of Americans go to work–some at two or three jobs–and at the end of the month, still don’t make enough money to provide decent day care for their kids, pay medical bills, and provide the food and utility bills that are part of every family’s daily life. Democrats believe that this Congress should not receive a cost of living adjustment until the minimum wage workers across America receive an increase in pay. They’ve been waiting for nine years. That’s long enough.”
“If you are working minimum wage job and you do nothing and ignore your responsibilities, you get fired. But here in the do-nothing Republican Congress, you get a raise,” Schumer said. “Democrats are united in seeing that this Congress at least does something to raise the minimum wage, and if tying our salaries together with those of hard working Americans is the only way we can get it done, then we’re all for it. Congress shouldn’t be lining its pockets while hardworking Americans are struggling just to fill theirs.”
“There’s no state in America where $5.15 an hour meets the basic needs of a working family. We have waited far too long to give these hardworking men and women a raise.” said Senator Kennedy. “The Republican leadership keeps using procedural roadblocks to stop our efforts. Last week we saw a majority of the Senate vote to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour – eight Republicans crossed party lines to show their support. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get this done. No one who works for a living should have to live in poverty.”
“People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to put food on the table and build a better life for their families. We need to do the right thing for hardworking Americans. And we need to do the fair thing for working families by raising the minimum wage. If Congress can get a raise, we certainly should be able to give a pay raise to working families,” said Senator Clinton.
After five years of Bush Republican incompetence, it is time for a change. Hard working Americans deserve a raise, and it is past time the Congress gave it to them.