What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Corporate Tax Breaks, General : Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (H.R. 2)/Motion to invoke cloture (limit debate) (2007 senate Roll Call 23)
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Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (H.R. 2)/Motion to invoke cloture (limit debate)
senate Roll Call 23     Jan 24, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was a motion to invoke cloture on a bill to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years.

This version of the legislation originated in the House and was what was known around the Senate as the "clean" version of the bill, meaning it did not include small business tax breaks that Republicans believed were necessary to offset what they characterized as the negative impact the minimum wage hike would have on employers. The House Democratic leadership had indicated that it preferred to deal with the tax breaks in separate legislation.

This vote was essentially a test to see if three-fifths of the Senate - the number of Senators required to invoke cloture and thus end debate - would support a minimum wage-only version of the bill. A Republican substitute orchestrated by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Max Baucus (R-Mont.) included tax breaks for small businesses.

Cloture is the only procedure in the Senate that restricts the amount of time a bill may be considered. Successfully invoking cloture means that the measure under consideration will be brought to a final vote. Otherwise, one Senator could hold up the legislation by refusing to yield the floor, and act known as a filibuster. Under Senate rules, cloture requires three-fifths of the chamber, normally 60 votes.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said if "cloture to be invoked on what is generally referred to as a 'clean minimum wage,' the bipartisan compromise that has been put together between Senator Baucus and Senator Grassley and Senator Enzi and others would be wiped out. So I think it is extremely important to mention to Members, those who would like to continue to go forward on a bipartisan basis, if cloture were to be invoked, that would eliminate the possibility of going forward on a bipartisan basis on minimum wage."

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who was leading his party's debate on the Senate floor, said he hoped his colleagues would vote for "a clean bill."

"If you look over the history of the minimum wage, the nine different times we have raised the minimum wage, we have had bipartisan support for that increase," Kennedy said. "It has only been in the very recent years that Republican leadership has led the fight against it. We offer an open hand to our Republican friends to support this program, which is so important to so many working families."

In the end, the Democratic leadership in the Senate did not have enough votes to invoke cloture. Republicans had signaled that they would not allow an up-or-down vote on the minimum wage-only version of the bill, meaning that without cloture the legislation would not even be brought to a vote.

By a vote of 54-43, the motion to invoke cloture fell short. Five Republicans joined all 47 Democrats present and both Independents to support the motion, but it fell shy of the 60 votes needed for passage under Senate rules. Thus, a bill to raise the minimum wage would not be brought to a vote without a Republican-backed provision including tax breaks for small businesses.

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