WASHINGTON — DFL Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar both voted in favor of opening debate on legislation that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the level proposed by President Barack Obama during his January State of the Union address.
While the measure got the support of 54 senators it won’t advance because of a Republican-led filibuster that required 60 votes to break.
During the debate on the bill, Franken argued that most workers are barely seeing their paychecks rise despite record corporate profits.
“Raising the minimum wage is about making sure that Minnesotans and others across the country get to be part of this improving economy,” said Franken.
Democrats had little expectation the wage increase would become law but believe that emphasizing the issue along with issues such as equal pay for women can stir voters who might otherwise stay home during midterm elections in November.
Minnesota lawmakers have separately voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2016.
While Republicans in Congress are opposed to increasing the minimum wage, former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he thinks the wage should rise — though not as much as in the Senate bill.
“For all the Republicans who come on and talk about, ‘we’re for the blue-collar worker, we’re for the working person,’ there are some basic things that we should be for. One of them is reasonable increases from time to time in the minimum wage,” said Pawlenty during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Pawlenty, who’s now a banking lobbyist, didn’t specify how much he believed the wage should rise.