Mitterhoff Address: Republicans hurt their 2014 prospects through filibuster

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Matthew Mitterhoff

Republican senators blocked a bill Wednesday that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an item high on President Obama’s agenda for 2014 with great support from congressional Democrats.

In a vote of 54-42, with all but one voting against the bill, Republicans successfully filibustered the minimum wage increase, going against public opinion about the level of the minimum wage. According to a New York Time/CBS News Poll done in November, over two-thirds of Americans supports raising the minimum wage, with 36 percent of all Americans supporting an increase to $10.10 from the current minimum wage of $7.25.

Republicans, explaining why they voted against the bill, cited a report by the Congressional Budget Office that said a $2.35 increase to the minimum wage would cause the loss of 500,000 jobs.

“The proposal before the Senate throws cold water on job creation and it adds to the burdens businesses are already facing,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said according to the New York Times. “Instead the Senate should be considering proposals which promote job growth.”

But Democrats are faulting Republicans for their action in the Senate.

“Just a few minutes ago, 42 Republican senators who earn $90 an hour – on behalf of individuals in our economy who earn thousands of dollars an hour – said ‘no’ to even debating a bill for a very small increase of the minimum wage,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said according to POLITICO.

This could be extremely detrimental to Republicans running for office again in November. By going against public opinion, they risk turning votes over to Democrats in the midterm elections.

President Obama called on citizens to choose candidates who will take those who voted against the bill out of office.

“If there’s any good news here, it’s that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this or any issue — you do, the American people, the voters,” he said in remarks at the White House after the vote. “If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you’ve got to let them know they’re out of step, and that if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you’ll put them out of office.”