Senate Republicans on Thursday turned back a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders to raise the minimum wage. The amendment was one of dozens to come up for Senate votes in a once-a-year parliamentary process known, unofficially, as a “vote-a-rama.”
“Since 1968, the real value of the federal minimum wage has fallen by close to 30 percent,” Sanders said before the vote. “Let us stand today with the tens of millions of workers who are struggling to put food on the table, to take care of their families. Let us raise the minimum wage."
Sanders has said the federal minimum wage should be go from the current $7.25 an hour to at least $10.10 an hour and eventually to $15 an hour.
Only two of the 48 senators voting in favor of Sanders’ amendment were Republicans. The proposal called for “a substantial increase in the minimum wage” without specifying what it should be. All 52 opponents were Republicans. “Apparently they believe starvation wages are good enough for millions of hard working Americans. I disagree. I believe nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. Let's raise the minimum wage to a living wage,” Sanders said afterward.
The Senate earlier blocked another Sanders amendment that would have encouraged a major investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects and, in the process, support millions of construction jobs. Fifty-two Senate Republicans voted against that proposal.
Also falling on similar nearly party-line votes were proposals to protect women in the workplace by ensuring equal pay for equal work; an amendment that called for reducing student debt by allowing borrowers with existing federal and private student loans to refinance their loans at lower interest rates; and amendment to shield Medicare from attempts to privatize the successful health care program for seniors and a proposal to thwart Republican efforts to cut Social Security.