ITWASSOOTED: Rich Senators Defeat Minimum-Wage Hike

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rich Senators Defeat Minimum-Wage Hike

Congressional Pay Rises While Minimum Stays Same

Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist

U.S. senators -- who draw salaries of $162,100 a year and enjoy a raft of perks -- have rejected a minimum wage hike from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 for blue-collar workers.

Can you believe it?

The proposed increase was sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and turned down in the Senate by a vote of 51 against the boost and 49 in favor. Under a Senate agreement, it needed 60 votes to pass.

All the Democrats voted for the wage boost. All the negative votes were cast by Republicans.

Four Republicans voted for it. Three of the four are running for reelection and were probably worried about how voters would react if they knew that their well-heeled senators had turned down a pittance of an increase in the salaries of the lowest paid workers in the country.

The minimum wage was last increased in 1997.

Kennedy called the vote "absolutely unconscionable."

The lawmakers are hardly hurting. They get health insurance, life insurance, pensions, office expenses, ranging from $2 million on up, depending on the population of a state. The taxpayers also pay for their travel, telecommunications, stationery and mass mailings.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said the rejection was "outrageous and shocking."
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