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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 30, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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and we all understand we're talking about two countries that are armed with nuclear weapons. so mr. president today at noon a number of us will gather around and introduce a piece of legislation that does three things. number one it strengthens nato. i think everyone would agree that the commitment of nato to its allies, our commitment to nato our partners' commitment to nato has waned over the last period of time. by the way mr. president, this is not just something that's occurred under this administration. it's been going on for some time. we have only three countries, as a matter of fact, three countries within the nato alliance that are actually honoring their commitments relative to its support of nato. so the first piece of this is to strengthen nato. it is to expedite, by the way this administration's own plan relative to missile defense a plan that they've laid out. it does not change that
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technology. the second piece of this legislation is intended to deter russia from what it's doing. mr. president, if you remember the geneva accord said that putin would move the russia troops away from the border that are intimidating people inside eastern ukraine. but i think what we've seen now is that -- quote -- "red line" has changed and now what the administration is focused on is them not actually going inside the country. but all of us understand that russia is actually accomplishing what it wishes to accomplish inside ukraine without even sending troops in, because they're able to do it, again with black ops. so what this piece of legislation that i'm -- that my friend from wyoming and so many others were involved in developing what this legislation does is lay down clear sanctions, first beginning today -- or after passage beginning with sanctions sanctions that
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hit several important entities in the banking sector and the energy sector so that we actually do something that affects the russian economy until such a time as they pull those troopsway from the border and they remove -- those troops away from the body and they remove the black ops from inside the country that are fomenting the problems. in the event that russia does actually cross the border with those troops, this bill imposes much deeper sanctions on russia and significant ifand signifies to them what price they would pay. earlier this week when the administration put forth its sanctions, it was a marvel to see that the stock market in russia several days in a row continued to go up, had no effect on russia -- none. mr. president, editorial writers and people on beige sides of the
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aisle -- on both sides of the aisle understand this was nothing, nothing more than a slap on the wrist. putin understands this. russia understands this. they understand that we as a nation have not signified that we're really willing to use these economic sanctions in a way through the president's own economic order i might add to change behavior. and so we're very concerned about the direction that this is taking. the third thing that this bill would do is it would harden our non-nato allies. mr. president, i think you know that in the country of moldova where i recently just returned -- senator barrasso on another trip just recently returned -- there and in georgia and in ukraine, would you know there are a number of things that we need to do to help them harden their country. this bill lays those things out. let me give you one example. in the russian speaking of -- in the russian-speaking area of eastern ukraine the only information that the people who
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are russian-speaking in that part of the world are receiving is coming from russia. it's propaganda. it's talking about things that the united states is doing which we aren't, and the great lives that they will have if russia is able to annex that part of the world. so at a minimum we need to make sure that the information that these people are receiving is very different. but there's so many things that we as a nation can be doing to ensure that ukraine is not destablized, that moldova is not destieblesddestablized, that georgia is not destablized. mr. president, this bill that we'll be introducing today is a serious piece of information. as a matter of fact, i'm gratified by the type of work that so many members have put in to making this legislation as it is. it's strategic, it is serious it tries to accomplish a good
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outcome. and what i hope the introduction of this legislation will do is it will cause the administration to step away from the microphones and the cameras to step away from the empty rhetoric that has been shared all across this world to cause them to step back and say hey ... wouldn't it be good if we laid out a strategic approach to europe? isn't it time we realized that russia is destabilizing europe and that affects our citizens? our citizenswe benefit from 22% of the world's gross domestic product. so the fact of the world being secure is not only important to us because of human rights and democracy and freedom, but a it is important to the very livelihoods of the people of our country. so mr. president i thank those involved. i look forward to discussing this more fully at noon today
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when we unveil this. what i hope will happen, again is that the white house and those involved in setting foreign policy will step back, they will sit down, they will begin to do those things that strengthen nato more fully, they will do those things that certainly cause russia to understand exactly what will happen if they continue on the path that they're on, and thirdly, strengthen our non-nato allies which because of the policies that we have not put in place are continually being destablized. with that, mr. president i yield the floor and thank you for the time. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: mr. president i ask unanimous consent to be able to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you mr. president. mr. president, first i'd like to commend my friend and colleague from tennessee for his leadership on foreign affairs his efforts on these areas and
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i fully support all of his efforts to bring forth a united position on behalf of our country. i come today to the floor mr. president, because the american people have just received more horrible news about our economy. the commerce department reported this morning that our economy grew at the smallest rate in three years. the expected -- the exact number is 0.1%, much, much worse than expected. to be specific, investment in business equipment declined, residential home construction declined u.s. exports fell sharply, and companies increased inventories at a much slower rate. i'd like to read what some of the economists have said about this. dan north a chief economist said "we've been living in sub-3% land, and people are gotten used to that as the new normal but it's not. it's anemic." to make things worse, "the financial times" is reporting that china is poised to pass the united states as the world's
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leading economic power this year. the american deserve better than this. and they shouldn't have to accept that anemic growth as the new normal. they deserve growth, good jobs, better opportunities understand and that's not what they're finding from the obama economy. instead, the president continues to push an agenda that makes it harder for americans to find good jobs and to bring home bigger paychecks. so today he'd like to talk about how -- i'd like tiewk about like to talk about how the health care law is making american paychecks smaller. i met earlier today with business leaders from wyoming. they're here from casper, sheaandcheyenne. i heard how it's impacting our economy not just in wyoming but nationwide. so it's interesting mr. president, to watch the white house and the president specifically spike the ball claiming that 8 million people
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signed up for health insurance through the government exchanges. at the same time, president has declared that the national debate about his health care law is -- quote -- "over." the administration's victory lap is premature. in fact, the obamacare debate is far from over. so i come to the floor today mr. president, to talk about additional side effects of the obama health care law. and i'm going to continue do this week after week, because the side effects on the american people on health care in this country continues to be very damaging. today i want to talk about smaller paychecks one of the obamacare side effects. so to just point out the debate is not over the for the millions of americans who are experiencing the negative side effects of the president's health care law voted on by democrats and not by republicans.
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now, one of the worst of these side effects is smaller paychecks that many families are for example because specifically of the mandates of the health care law. it's happening all around the country. so let me tell you what's happening as reported by the "new hampshire union leader." this is one eafnlings the article is--this is one example. the article is talking about paper costs are threatening the economic platforms on which their companies are built. it quoted a man who runs a ski area saying that the law could mean that he has to open later in the season and close earlier in the season. that's because people on his payroll for 120 consecutive days or longer have to be offered health insurance under the democrats' health law. so mother nature might say there's plenty of snow. the skiers and snow snowboarders are ready to go. the resort wants to open, restaurants are ready to serve people hotels are ready to host
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people but obamacare says the resort can't open without facing enormous costs for washington-mandated insurance. hurting people working at the ski resorts, it is hurting people in businesses in those communities. so who pays for the negative side effects? well it's the seasonal workers who will be limited to fewer than 120 days of work. they'll work fewer days, smaller paychecks because of the health care law. the "new hampshire union leader" said "as snowboard rs say "bummer." but phs not just the it is not just the seasonal workers being hurt. this article talks about the seasonal workers in colorado being hurt. state government agencies are starting to get very worried about how to deal with the health law's mandates. the law says employers including state and local governments, have to cover
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people who work 30 hours a week or more. that's who the law considers full-time workers. when i talk to business leaders from wyoming most people think of full-time workers as 40 hours. not president obama. he's 30-hour man. so according to a story from wtvd in raleigh state agencies are looking at cutting the hours of part-time workers to keep them under that 30-hour limit. the north north carolina agriculture department has about 250 part-time employees who are now working more than 40 hours. those 250 people are working more are than 30 house but they're part-time. and the north carolina department of transportation has almost 600 people in the same situation. so north carolina is going to have to look very closely at what to do with those people, and that can mean smaller paychecks. the local governments are having to make these same decisions because of the health care law.
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witn another station in green greenville, north carolina did a story last month about how schools are cutting the hours that substitute teachers can work. same 30-hour obama workweek limit again. the health care law wasn't about substitute teachers, but they're the ones feeling the negative side effects and they're the ones seeing smaller paychecks. the story quoted a teacher in pitt county, north carolina, who said she got a letter from the school district there telling her she wouldn't be able to work as much. substitute teachers are now limited to three days a week. why? because of the expensive mandates of obamacare. she told the tv sayings she say, i'm willing to work, i want to work. out in they're telling me i can -- now they're telling me i can only work for so long. this is only one teacher who is going to be limited to actually 21 hours of week.
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she is wondering how she will make ends meet with 21 hours a week. that is a side effect of the health care law and it means smaller paychecks for substitute teachers. president obama says the department is over. well, is it over for teachers in north carolina who are seeing their time cut to under 30 hours a week? is it over in ski resort communities in new hampshire and in colorado? look what's going on in iowa. an article just last week in "the autumnal courier" said the hours were being cut from 37 hours to 29 hours. those extra hours may not mean much to democrats on the floor of the senate or the house members who voted for this health care law but they're a real big deal for a lot of families that are struggling in the obama economy. in colorado, the aspen daily news reported last month that
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adjunct professors at the colorado mountain college are going to have the same limit much 29 hours a week. this school has 112 full-time faculty, but it's not 600 part-time professors. some of them just want to teach a class here or there to make extra money but some are trying to string together enough hours to support themselves, support their families and they are getting hammered by the president's health care law that every democrat in this body voted for. it's happening all over the country. i heard stories today. new hampshire, north carolina, colorado. here's a final example. in a borough in alaska, they announced earlier this year that it's putting a cap on the hours of frights and emergency -- hours of firefighters and emergency medical technicians. according to one technician some
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stations are limiting firefighters to 24 hours a week. we saul -- see some all hurt by the obamacare health care law and getting hit with smaller paychecks. nothing they asked for. they want to work, they're ready to work, willing to work. we have a weak economy an anemic economy. and the president and democrats don't seem to care. they don't seem to care. they think the debate is over. president obama says the debate is over. he says democrats who voted for this said, you know, should forcefully defend and be proud. how can you mr. president forcefully defend these smaller paychecks? how can you be proud of these smaller paychecks because of your law and what you've had democrats vote for? in north carolina, alaska when you hear these stories, new hampshire, one after another after another. colorado. well mr. president it's not
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over for americans like those who are tepbg to get hit in -- who are continuing to get hit in their wallets. people in new hampshire, north carolina iowa, colorado, alaska all over the rest of the country. and it's not over for republicans who will continue to stand up for those americans and keep pushing for commonsense reform that will actually help people get the care and what they wanted all along, which was better access to quality affordable health care. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you mr. president. i ask, first of all, unanimous consent that i be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes and that following my remarks -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. casey: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes and that following my remarks senator franken be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes and senator markey be permitted for up to five
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minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: mr. president i rise this morning to talk about the matter before us, which is the minimum wage. today the senate will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the minimum-wage fairness act, the legislation that we're considering, which would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over the course of three years. we don't know what the result will be today but we're working to get as much support as possible because getting past this first hurdle, of course is essential to getting the bill passed to giving americans who are working very hard a fair shot at some economic security that they may not have right now. but we've got a lot of work to do because there are still people out there who especially here in washington, who are
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making arguments that don't make a lot of sense and to me, don't make a lot of sense to the people of pennsylvania. where i come from, when someone works a full day and a full week they shouldn't most people believe that they should have a fair shot at making not just a living, but making sure that they have enough of a living that they can lift themselves out of poverty. you shouldn't work 40 hours a week and be paid a poverty wage. unfortunately, that's the case for far too many americans. increasing the minimum wage would help workers make ends meet. it would offer a lift up the ladder to the middle class and boost the economy by boosting new spending. we know that that is the case. all the data shows that. all the studies show that. but we still have to make the case to some folks here in washington. wages for most workers aren't keeping up with the cost of living. the cost of paying a mortgage or
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raising a family and some of the other middle-class concerns. the pay of minimum-wage workers isn't keeping up with inflation. six years have passed since the last minimum-wage increase was enacted. the pay for the middle class is stagnant while the gap between the haves and the have-nots have widened subsubstantially. the chart on my right i think tells the story about what could happen if we are able to pass an increase in the minimum wage. it is about giving a fair shot to our families and to our workers by raising the minimum wage. increasing the minimum wage helps a lot of folks across the country more broadly. of course it helps working families. look at these numbers. workers that would get a raise. 28.7 million workers across the country. there are very few things that the united states senate can do today or this week that would provide that kind of direct economic jump-start to so many communities and to 27.8 million
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people. look at the boost to g.d.p. i mentioned that earlier. $22 billion boost to the economy. again, there are very few things if any that we could pass here in the senate that would provide that kind of jump-start to the economy just when we need it. the number of jobs created across the country some 85,000. some think the number is higher than that. i know in pennsylvania, this would have a job increase impact into the thousands in pennsylvania. look at the number for women. this is mostly an issue about women who are working every day trying to support their families and it also has an impact obviously on children. women that would get a raise 15.3 million women across the country. i'd like to hear someone who is on the other side of the aisle demonstrate to women across this country what they will do in
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place of that if they're going to say now is not the time for a raise in the minimum wage. what about those women who are shoul tkerg most of the -- shouldering most of the burden to raise their families and to make their way in a tough economy? children with a parent that would get a raise 14 million children have a parent that would get a boost in the minimum wage. again i would say is what is your answer? or what is your strategy to give a boost but really more appropriately stated, a measure of security for our children? there is little, if not -- i'm not sure i can name another action this senate could take to make sure that 14 million children have a measure of security that they do not have today, they do not have today even in the economy that in some parts of the economy is getting a little better.
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americans overall lifted out of poverty, two million americans will be lifted out of poverty if we pass an increase in the minimum wage. i'd ask anyone on the other side, is there an action, is there a bill, is there a vote, is there a step we can take in the senate this week or next week that would do the same to help 14 million children to lift two million americans out of poverty? i don't know of any. i'll wait and see what their answer is. i hope that they will answer that question, because they should. this is a debate, and they should answer that question. tell us what you will do to help 14 million children if you're not going to support lifting or raise the minimum wage. less spending on food stamps, $4.6 billion per year. we hear attacks all the time unjustified though they are from the other side about the snap program. we used to call it the food
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stamp program. they're always talking about we need to reduce spending in that program. well, instead of cutting people like so many in this body seem to want to do every day of the week voting for budgets that would slash support for people that need help, just having a measure of food security, being able to feed their families, instead of doing that, why don't you support raising the minimum wage lift them out of poverty lift them out of the dependence they have to have on an important program like the snap program. that's the better way to reduce those numbers. it's not just a question of what is right. it's a question of the best economic strategy for that worker for his or her family, and for the economy overall. then finally veterans that would get a raise one million veterans. now we hear speeches all the time don't we here in washington both sides of the aisle, and in most cases in almost every case they are
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heartfelt and they're honest about the support that one senator or a group of senators provide to help our veterans. and i have no doubt that people are sincere when they say that. but there are some opportunities around here where you can take an action. you can cast a vote that has a direct benefit not just on 14 million children, but in this case on one million veterans. you've got to ask yourself if you can cast that vote, what are you going to do? what are you going to do with the power that you have to cast your vote, to stand up and say i support an increase in the minimum wage? if you're not going to do that, if you're not going to vote for this or ever vote for this, then what are you going to do to help those same one million veterans or those same 14 million children or those 15.3 million women? if you have an answer for that, you have a different strategy that will get us to these numbers, let's hear it. i'd like to hear the answer to
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that. i haven't heard it yet. maybe i haven't been listening but i'll try to listen closely to what the arguments are on the other side of the aisle. so the hashtag raise the wage is a good way to summarize why this is so fundamental but really so simple. this is about giving people a fair shot. it's not about some program that people are asking for to be created. it's about basic basic fairness in giving folks a fair shot in an economy which is still very tough for a lot of families. mr. president, i think it's critical that we emphasize some of these numbers but it's also, i think really about the human trauma that so many families have been living through. so many of them that have lived through the recession and are still climbing out of a hole
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they were in. they may have lost their job. they may have run out of unemployment insurance. they may have lost their home in the course of all that. and there's no question, and it is irrefutable that the cascading effect of that trauma hits not only the worker and maybe if they have a spouse or a partner, the person standing next to them, but it also has a cascading effect on the children as well and the family. and then to all of us. we all have a stake in this. the idea that raising the minimum wage is about some other group of people out there who are far away from us makes no sense. if we raise the minimum wage the economy for everyone gets better. and you know, folks don't have to take my word for it. over 600 economists, 600 -- not 6 or 10, but 600 economists, including seven nobel laureates
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have signed a letter stating their support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 because it would be good for workers and it would not -- not -- have a negative effect on jobs and would even provide a boost to economic activity. i'm not going to read the whole letter mr. president but the letter was released in january of this year. let me just read a statement from it and then i'll conclude. this is the letter from 600 economists in january. -- quote -- "at a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages such a minimum-wage increase will provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers. in recent years there's been important developments in the academic literature on the effective increase in the minimum wage unemployment, with the weight of evidence -- the weight of evidence -- now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no -- let me say it again -- little or no negative effect on
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the employment of minimum-wage workers even during times of weakness in the labor market. research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings raising demand and job growth and providing some help on the jobs front." now that's a long statement by 600 economists. it's very measured. it's not inflating numbers and saying this is going to cure all of our economic challenges or all of our economic woes. but it is a clear and unequivocal endorsement of raise the minimum wage. i would add to that, with all due respect to those smart economists the data here. i'll conclude -- let me make one more point and then i'll conclude. i don't have it in front of me, but one of
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the organizations that has endorsed an increase in the minimum wage is the american academy of pediatrics. why? because they know a lot about taking care of kids. they know a lot about how to provide the best health care for kids. they know a lot about the -- the the -- the traumas and the difficulties that a lot of children face. especially if they're poor or in a low-wage -- a family getting low wages. that child is impacted, there's no doubt about that. all the science tells us that. all the literature tells us that. but if the american academy of pediatrics is saying we should raise the minimum wage because it's good for kids and these 600 economists are saying it's good for the economy and so much other information is saying it will help our veterans, a million veterans, and 14 million kids, what is the argument over there against it? now, i've heard some of the arguments but i have not heard an argument yet that says they have a strategy on the other
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side of this debate that will help 15 million -- 15.3 million women, that will directly help 14 million children and that will help a million veterans and boost our economy on top of it. i would be for this even if there wasn't a boost to the economy because we could help people individually. but that's an added reason to be supportive of this. so this is long overdue long overdue. we should be having this debate every five or six or eight years. we should raise the minimum wage appropriately to a reasonable number that makes sense and then index it so we can take this issue off the table so it would increase appropriately as it should over time. if we did that in the 1960's or 1970's the minimum wage would be not just higher than it is today $7.25 it would be in the the -- it would be more than $10.50 an hour, something higher than that -- some think higher than that.
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so if you're unalterably opposed to raising the minimum wage, i would hope -- i would hope -- you would have a strategy to make sure that 14 million kids are benefited by your action, by your bill, not over 20 years but by some other legislative vehicle, and you should have a strategy to make sure that one one million veterans have some measure of economic security they don't have now, and you should be able to answer what the american academy of pediatrics says is good for children. if you can answer those kinds of questions, then i'd love to take a look at your bill. but if you can't you got some some -- you got some explaining to do. so madam president, i will yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: would the senator withhold? mrs. mr. casey: i will. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: franken: thank you. i want to thank my colleague for his words on the minimum wage.
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very very important points raised in terms of that letter from those economists and the american pediatric association. just adds wonderfully to the debate. i rise today madam president to support like my colleague from pennsylvania, an increase in the federal minimum wage. i'm a proud cosponsor of the minimum wage fairness act which would give 16 1/2 million americans a much-deserved raise. i'm incredibly proud of the important step that minnesota took to raise the minimum wage earlier this week. just a few weeks ago -- or earlier this month. just a few weeks ago the governor and the minnesota state legislature took this big step for workers and families and because of this, hundreds of thousands of hardworking minnesotans will themselves receive a raise.
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this is a big deal. before this increase, minnesota's state minimum wage was actually lower than the federal minimum wage. i'd like to talk a little bit about why minnesota has taken this important step. minnesotans believe that if you work full time 52 weeks a year, you should be able to put food on the table and a roof over your family's head. they believe if you work hard in america, you should have a chance to work your way up into the middle class. as i traveled around minnesota i've heard from people all over the state who've been working long, long hours and yet struggle to support their families to work their way to the middle class and provide a brighter future for their children. as a state we recognized that there are -- there were too many people working really hard at
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one, two sometimes three jobs and were still struggling to get by. parents have been wondering how they're going to be able to pay for their kids' college or even how to make the next car payment payment. instead, they've been working 60-hour weeks and missing out on spending precious time with their children. and that's why i am proud that minnesota has now joined 20 others -- 21 other states with minimum wages higher than the federal minimum. and in washington, i'm going to keep working to do my part to help minnesota workers. recent research confirms that what we see in minnesota is happening across america. in a survey last year of workers earning less than $10 an hour, two-thirds of these workers said they are not meeting or are just meeting their basic living
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expenses. two-thirds of these workers report needing public assistance assistance -- public assistance. 2-5 said they can't afford additional education and training. with wages too low these workers are trapped. they're trapped in poverty. now the economy is getting better but raising the minimum wage is about doing everything we can to make sure it gets better for everyone. last year our nation's largest businesses saw record profits. the market finished last year up over 26% its best return since the 1990's. raising the minimum wage is about making sure that minnesotans and workers across the country get to be a part of this improving economy. that's why minnesota has taken this important step. we know that a strong minimum
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wage and a strong middle class go hand in hand. that's why i support raising the federal minimum wage to a level that allows people to work their way to a better life. work their way to a better life. for decades, the federal minimum wage has lost its value. if the federal minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since its peak value in the 1960's, today it would be worth over $10.50 an hour. today the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour. so when families have had to pay more for food and rent and utilities child care and education the minimum wage not only hasn't kept up but it's gone down. and it's not just minimum-wage
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workers who haven't seen an increase in wages. since the 1970's, we've seen worker productivity grow by 135% while the average wages for middle-class workers have not changed. so americans are working harder than ever but average wages are stuck and the minimum wage has actually it's been declining. now, let me tell you about what the minimum -- raising the minimum wage would mean to one minnesotan. her name is mizrak. she's a mother of two and works at the airport as a cleaner. where she makes a low wage. because she couldn't make ends meet, she had to take a second job assisting passengers in wheelchairs who need help. she's been doing this for four years. and during that time, she's
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received only one raise worth just 80 cents an hour. she doesn't get vacation days or sick days or time off with her children. she wants to help her children finish college and they want to finish college so they can be sure if they work hard that will be a path out of poverty and into the middle class. for mizrak even though she works over 60 hours per week she and her family are just barely scraping by. bringing the minimum wage back to a level that can support a family is the first step in restoring the promise that, if you work hard, you can build a better life for yourself and your family. sometimes people ask why raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour as we did in minnesota or to $10.10, as we want to do? they say why not leave
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minimum-wage workers alone to figure out things for themselves? now, i don't believe that raising the minimum wage is going to solve all the problems that working families face today. they need more than a minimum wage. they need good jobs and good schools and good roads to provide a better future for themselves and for their children. but i support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour because it's a wage that says americans value work. it's a minimum guarantee that anyone who shows up 40 hours a week and ready to work should be able to provide food and shelter for themselves and their children and should not live in poverty. other people say that we don't need to raise the minimum wage because it's -- it's not working families who earn the minimum wage. instead, they say it's mainly teenagers in their first job who earn the minimum wage. now, in fact, the vast majority
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of workers who would get a raise under this bill are working adults working adults, including approximately 350,000 adults in minnesota. one-quarter are parents including over 85,000 parents in our state. parents would see a raise from the bill we are considering are the parents of 14 million children. an estimated 150 of them in minnesota. these are kids the american pediatric association says do this. these are kids who you know, we know that kids who have deprivation have trauma.
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there's different kinds of deprivation. and we know it makes it harder for them to learn. it changes their brain chemistry to be under that much stress. so let's do it for these kids. the majority -- 56% of minnesotans who would be affected by an increase are women. nationwide one in five working mothers would see a raise under this bill. one in five working mothers. and 6.8 million workers and their families would be lifted out of poverty. raising the minimum wage is good for working families, and it's good for the economy. it boosts economic activity and helps local businesses. a study from the federal reserve bank of chicago found that increasing the federal minimum
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wage to $10 an hour could boost g.d.p. by up to .3 percentage points. goldman sachs noted that based on their analysis of states that increased their minimum wage at the start of 2014, the employment impact, if any from a higher federal minimum wage would be small relative to the normal volatility in the market. a higher minimum wage -- i would ask the chair for about two minutes -- or a minute and a half. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. franken: well in that cairks twocasetwo minutes. increasing the minimum wage boosts the purchasing power of consumers and creates more quo's merse for local businesses -- more customers for local businesses. the economic policy institute
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estimates that the increased economic activity from an increase to $10.10 minimum wage could crease 85,000 nut jobs and boost g.d.p. by $22.2 billion over the three years of implementation. increasing the minimum wage helps businesses in another way too. workers who are better-paid are also more productive and less likely to quit. that means businesses save on recruiting and training costs. it also means they have better, more loyal harder-workingworking employees. businesses in minnesota understand this. i spoke with the owner of common roots cafe and catering in minneapolis. danny pays his employees a minimum of $11 per hour, plus benefits like paid time off and health insurance. danny has written -- quote -- "over time, other businesses will see what i have seen; that paying people more yields more for the bottom line.
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it's easier to recruit and retain people. happier employees are more likely to provide better customer service lower turnover means dramatically lower training costs and better employee performance." danny understands that his business will do better if his workers are doing better. it's time that congress follow minnesota's example. the minimum wage is about making sure that work pays. it's about the american dream. if you work hard and take responsibility, you can put a roof over your head, provide a decent life for your children, and help them get ready for the future. it's been too long sings the federal minimum wage -- since the federal minimum wage kept that promise to america's workers and their children, and that's why we need to raise it today. i thank the chair, madam president. thank you.
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mr. markey: madam president, i am proud to stand here today to support raising the minimum wage. no person should work full-time and not earn enough to be above the poverty level. the poverty level in the united states in 2014 is about $23,000 for a family of four. today if someone works for the minimum wage for 40 hours a week, they are still in poverty and no one should work 40 hours a week and be give an salary that does not lift them and their families up out of poverty. that is just absolutely wrong. and millions of people in our country have been trying to climb into the middle class but no matter how hard they work, they are stuck in the same place. in america today nearly half of
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those who grow up in families in the bottom fifth of income earners will stay there as adults. tiges of millions of americans -- tenses of millions of americans can never get off the ground. that is unacceptable. it is immoral and that needs to change. raising the minimum wage is a first step to fight income inequality in our country. we must help restore the dignity and the value of work and help millions of families escape poverty by increasing the national minimum wage. today more than 46 million americans are living in poverty. the average american household made less in 2012 than it did in 1989. that is wrong. it is just plain wrong. and over these last 20 years the top 1% of wage earners in america has seen their income skyrocket by 86%.
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and in the years ahead it's going to get worse for those making the minimum wage. over the next five years the real value of the minimum wage is projected to decline by 10% or over $1,400 of purchasing power for a full-time worker, unless we increase the minimum wage. what does that mean? it means that americans will be able to buy less if we don't do it. and it will it will be harder for families to get by. the poor will effectively get even more impoverished even as they are working 40 hours a week. they get poorer and poorer and poorer because that minimum wage does not buy as much as it did the year before and the year before and the year before. so the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. that's the system that we have right now unless we take action to make sure that those who earn the minimum wage are keeping
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pace with what it takes to buy the food to pay the rent, to pay for the schools for the children in their families. if we don't do that, they just get poorer and poorer while continuing to work 40 hours a week. we know that low-income americans who would benefit from raising the minimum wage, that they're not the only ones. hundreds of small businesses in my home state of massachusetts have signed on to a petition for a fair minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. that petition says raising minimum wage makes good business sense. that same small business petition says, workers are also customers. they're right. increasing the purchasing power of minimum-wage workers helps stimulate the economy. research has shown time and time again that minimum-wage workers spend the additional income they receive when the minimum wage is increased. if we increased the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, 28 million
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boxerworkers woo receive would receive $2,800 in additional wages. raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. it goes right into the economy. so economists believe it will actually boost the economy by creating about 85,000 new jobs and increasing economic activity by about $22 billion. so that means everyone in our economy should be on board. raising the minimum wage is about giving families security, opportunity, and dignity. the security to know that they can make ends meet, the opportunity to climb out of poverty into the middle class and the dignity to know that they are getting paid a fair wage for a hard day's work, and that's why i am proud to stand here today to urge my colleagues to increase the minimum wage so
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that we give america that raise which it needs for those who are working so hard for our economy. i yield back the balance of my time. the presiding officer: morning business ised. under the previous order the time until 12:00 noon will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator whip. mr. cornyn: madam president i think people listening to the debate on the minimum wage issue may be a little bit confused, because we all want to see hardworking american families work their way toward the american dream. but we're not going to be able do that by the federal government setting wages for restaurants, small businesses and other people across the country. now, i have no objection obviously, if massachusetts or minnesota or some other state
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wants to raise minimum wage, but that's their choice. but what they're now asking is for the federal government, for the nation to set a minimum wage at a level which will destroy between a half a million and one million jobs. and that's not just me talking; that's the congressional budget office, which is the official scorecard for the united states congress. so if you think about it, if you're a small business and your biggest expense is wages for the people who work there if the federal government comes in and says forget about your local conditions in north dakota or in texas, we're going to say that from washington, d.c., everybody has got to raise wages by 40%. well i can't imagine there is would be many businesses, small businesses particularly, that can absorb a 40% increase in
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their overhead. i mean, this is going to hurt low-wage earners who are currently employed -- and that's what the congressional budget office said -- and it's going to hurt the economy. now, i heard the distinguished senator from minnesota say the economy is doing great. well, i don't -- i guess he must have missed the latest report on the first quarter of 2014, because of the bad weather we had an unseasonably cold first quarter, the economy grew at .1%. in other words it almost went into what would be a negative growth or a recession. of course, recession is defined as two quarters of negative growth. but my point is that this strong growth that he's talking about in the economy is a figment. it is not the facts. and we need to deal with the facts on the ground.
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so you know, i wonder sometimes why public opinion holds congress and washington in such low esteem. wcialtionwell actually, i don't wonder why. my compliewtion is that they -- my conclusion is that they think that we're out of touch. we're out of touch with regular american families, people who are working hard to make ends meet get the kids ready for school and to live their version of the american dream. but 27% i think is the latest statistic i saw -- 27% of the american people think that america -- that we're on the right track. now, that's shocking -- that's a shoring number. so -- that's a shocking number. so 73% think we're on the wrong track. so what is it -- the saying that the definition of insanity is
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doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different outcome. well, let's not do the same thing over and over again. keep america on the wrong track and engage in a policy decision here on this minimum wage -- this 40% increase in minimum wage, which will actually hurt more people than it helps. so this is not just my view. there was a poll that came out yesterday that said that basically once people understood that people would be put out of work by increasing the minimum wage that 58% said it's not worth it. 58% of the respondents said it is not worth it. now, it's nice -- it would be great if we lived in a world where washington can dictate what wages will be and all of a sudden you know, peace love, and happy phsand happiness will break out.
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because washington is somehow distributing free money and it didn't have -- it didn't come from somewhere. it didn't come from somebody's pocket or is part of someone's overhead. or it didn't have any negative impact. well that's not the world we live in. and, again, it is not just public opinion.'s not just my opinion. i.t. notit's not just the congressional budget office's opinion about the job-killing nature of this dramatic 40% proposed increase in minimum wage. president clinton's economic advisor gene sperling, who just left this administration, the obama administration, back in 1998 wrote a memo to president cline continue when a similar -- president clinton when a similar proposal was being made. now the harkin bill that we're going to vet on shortly proposes to raise the minimum wage 40%. this was back in 1978 gene
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sperling writing to president clington on a proposed increase of the minimum wage by 41%. the same sort of proposal. so this is what mr. sperling wrote: "your entire economic team believes that this approach is too aggressive and are concerned that senator kennedy's proposal" -- it was senator teddy kennedy's proposal back in 1978 -- "could approve damaging to the employment prospects of low-skilled workers." again, that's whatd c.b.o., the congressional budget office said about this bill. he goes on to say "as well as to the general macroeconomic performance of the economy." so what are our friends across the aisle proposing we do when the economy grew at .1% this last quarter? well to administer a body blow to this anemic economic growth.
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and that's again not just my opinion. this is deja vu all over again as they say. this is a -- and i guess if you're around washington long enough you're going to see this movie get replayed over and over again. the fact is, madam president that our economy is weaker today than it was in 1998. sure unemployment is coming down slowly but the economy is growing too slowly and the number of people in the workforce is the lowest it's been for the last 30 years the so-called labor participation rate. so what did president clinton do when his economic advisors said don't do it, mr. president? while it's good politics perhaps, it really will hurt the economy and it will put people out of work. well, president clinton to his credit decided not to pursue that particular 41% increase in
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minimum wage. but i mention that as a sad contrast with the current situation where president obama seeing his favorability ratings at the lowest they have been since he became president is trying to change the subject and trying to basically make a political point when the fact is making the political point will actually hurt a lot of hardworking americans. so the majority leader has decided that rather than spend the week debating legislation that would actually create jobs, we should spend it debating a proposal that would destroy jobs. now we've all known that a massive minimum wage increase like this can be a job killer, and so it really wasn't surprising when we saw that --
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quantification proposal by the budget office saying this could destroy up to a million jobs. i didn't hear the senator from massachusetts talk at all about the budget report. they want to ignore that. they want us to believe that this increase in the minimum wage would have little or no effect on employment and maybe it would have a positive effect. i heard the senator from massachusetts make that claim. but the people who actually run america's businesses know better. and, you know, i had dinner the other night with some folks in the restaurant business, some of whom will, examples of whom i will mention in a moment. and most of these folks are pretty successful business, the folks i happened to have dinner with. but they started washing dishes or busing tables or waiting on those tables. they started at the bottom and worked their way up because they could find a job get their hand
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on the first rung of the economic ladder, and then put the other hand on the next one and work their way up to now they are very successful business people. but they understand how businesses work. they understand the negative consequences of this bad policy coming from washington d.c. just ask robert mayfield from austin texas where i live. mr. mayfield has been in business for 35 years now and he's pretty successful. he also knows a thing or two about the consequences of labor costs, rising labor costs. that's what we're talking about. for a business, this is the overhead, this is the labor costs that they have to pay out of their income. and he wants members of congress -- mr. mayfield wants members of congress to know that he strongly opposes this proposal because it will cost people jobs. so here's how he describes it --
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and i quote -- "what`s most devastating about an increase in the minimum wage is that costs go up. for a business, that's what wages are. it's the cost of doing business. and as a business owner, i have to raise prices. so you think you could pay somebody $10.10 an hour to work in a mcdonald's and it won't have an impact on the cost of your big mac? well you're living in a fantasy world if you think it won't have an impact. and that's what mr. mayfield says. but he says i have to raise prices if this happens and sometimes the market won't bear it. so in the end jobs will be lost and service will suffer. he says the people in congress wanting to pass the minimum wage
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bill don't know anything more about how a business works than a hog knows about sunday school. what makes it worse is obamacare is hanging over our heads. and i heard this again today from a friend of mine from san antonio, louie barrios whose family has run mexican restaurants in san antonio for many years. he says the combination of obamacare and now this proposed minimum wage increase, i'll tell you exactly what he said. right now we would like to pay a single mom who is working in our restaurants to take orders, he said if congress lifts the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, we will have no choice but to replace that server, that waitress with an ipad. that's what's happening in a lot of fast-food restaurants these days. here again congress shouldn't
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operate in a vacuum without knowledge or an awareness of what the consequences might be. now i'm not suggesting any of our friends who are advocating this minimum-wage increase want to put that single mom out of work. but if we are to embrace that policy, that is what louie barrios told me this morning would likely happen. so people like robert mayfield and louie barrios are supported by countless economists. we've got the folks who are actually doing the work and then we've got the big thinkers like the economists who studied this issue and concluded that this size minimum-wage increase is just a really, really bad idea in terms of the economy. so more than 500 of those economists including several noble laureates recently signed an open letter to federal policy-makers expressing their opposition to this 40%
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minimum-wage hike. their letter said it this way. they said -- quote -- "many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins. with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance." that's what robert mayfield said. i can't absorb it without passing it along to customers increasing the prices that they have to pay or i may have to lay some people off. or i may just have to close my business altogether because they're operating on tight profit margins. so when so many economists and so many folks who are working across america are telling us the same thing and the truth is it makes perfect common sense it would be the height of arrogance for us to ignore their concerns. but that's what president obama
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and majority leader reid are asking us to do here today. now i fully share -- and i've made this point at the beginning -- i fully share our colleagues' concern about the stagnant wages that are being earned by american workers all across america. indeed, since the so-called obama economic recovery -- that was after the recession of 2008, but after the obama economic recovery started kicking in in june 2009, the median household income in this country has gone down by $1,800. down. so i understand the concern. but you know, i find it almost a little depressing that congress's only answer to that is to raise 40% in minimum wage which will put people out of work shut down small businesses when there's a lot better ways for us to address it. and i'll talk about that in a
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moment. raising the minimum wage by 40% will not grow the economy. it will not create jobs. it will do the opposite. of course the truth is -- and we read this in newspapers a couple of weeks ago -- we all know what's happening here, so let's talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the senate chamber. the truth is the president and majority leader reid, they don't expect this bill to pass because they actually are very intelligent people, and they know the facts as i've just described them here on the floor of the senate. but this is all about politics. this is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted and to try to rescue this midterm election coming up in november because they see the president's approval rating going down.
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they see a number of midterm races for the senate in play, and they've got to do something. they're desperate. obamacare didn't work out like they thought. can't keep what you have if you like it. your premiums didn't go down $2,500 if you're an average family of four. and you can't no you can't keep your doctor in too many cases under the health insurance exchanges. so they're desperate. well we know from reporting in "the new york times" and elsewhere that this minimum-wage bill this show vote that we're going to have here shortly is part of a larger messaging package created in collaboration with the democratic senatorial campaign committee. so that's not me talking. that's the admission by the leadership on the other side of the aisle. so this is not about actually solving the problem. this is about political theater
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courtesy of majority leader read. the real tragedy is that millions of americans don't have any time or any patience for this sort of political theater and partisan gamesmanship, because the numbers are very troubling. the obama recovery is five years old, and yet 10.5 million people are still unemployed, including 3.7 million people who have been unemployed for more than six months. with an additional 7.4 million people working part time because they can't find full-time work or because of obamacare that their employers have taken full-time work and put them on part-time work in order to avoid the employer penalties. so it's true, the hardworking american family needs some help, but the truth is this remedy
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that's being offered today this medicine to try to supposedly soflt -- solve the problem will just make things worse. so i have a proposition to make to our friends across the aisle. if they would work with us, if they would leave these games by the wayside and if they would focus for a minute on trying to work with us to engage in solutions that would help grow the economy and help reduce unemployment and help raise wages across the nation, then we would gladly embrace that. and we've introduced a number of bills that would do exactly that. know i know the distinguished senator who is presiding comes in an energy-producing state like mine, and this is no mystery to her. but in texas like north dakota, there are a lot of really good jobs but people don't have the skills necessarily to qualify for those good jobs.
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so i've been in fredericksburg, texas, recently where they are training welders at the community college there. a welder can make $100,000 or more a year. in the perman basin in odessa in texas, truck drivers can make $100,000 a year. it is unbelievable what this renaissance in american energy has done to our economy and job creation. but one thing we can do that would be a heck of a lot more constructive than this kind of show vote and this partisan gamesmanship would be to improve our workforce training programs. you know, the pell grant programs. and try to figure ways to get people the training they need in order to qualify for these good high-paying jobs that is being created by this wonderful renaissance in american energy. and we could do some other things like we could try to rein in some of the regulations which i hear about day in and
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day out from my constituents that are restraining businesses. we could approve the keystone x.l. pipeline, which makes a lot of sense; create about 42,000 jobs. it would give us a safe source of energy from a friendly country like canada. and we could do something else constructive, we could provide some relief for those people who had full-time jobs turned into part-time jobs because of obamacare. we could do that. the senator from maine senator collins, senator scott from south carolina has got a bill that would do just exactly that. but unfortunately madam president, what i'm an optimistic person, i'm not particularly optimistic about the majority leader or the president changing their tactics in this election year. so that's why tragically under
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these circumstances we find ourselves here today debating a job -- debating a bill that would actually kill vobz rather kill jobs rather than create jobs. what a terrible lost opportunity that is. madam president, i see my friend from maryland here ready to speak and so what i would like to do is i would ask unanimous consent that several letters that have been provided to us by organizations like the american hotel and lodging association the wholesale marketers association among other business organizations including the u.s. chamber of commerce, that these be made part of the record at the end of my comments. all of these letters are opposing this 40% minimum-wage increase. and i'd ask that unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: and madam president, i would finally ask unanimous consent to make part of the record a column written by a gentleman by the name of michael saltzman, in the
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"indy star" newspaper entitled "wage cost hike is no myth." this is the source of the information we got about the clinton archives and this memo that jean sperling wrote to president clinton advising him that even though it might be good temporary politics, it would actually hurt a lot of low-wage workers. i'd ask unanimous consent that be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you madam president. i've been on the floor several times and many of my colleagues, particularly on this side of the aisle have been here to talk about a growing trend in america and that is that we see a concentration of wealth and a shrinking middle class. if you're a business owner, you should be very concerned about that. a growing middle class is what buys the products, that goes to the restaurants that keep our economy going. so time and time again we have asked to proceed on legislation
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that would allow us to help a growing middle class. this is not our first effort with the minimum wage. many states have passed increases in the minimum wage. it's time for our federal government to do the same to help a growing middle class. but the last effort was on behalf of gender equity paycheck fairness where we sought to have a fair shot for women in the workplace so they don't have to work extra time to make the same income as a man for equal work. a woman receives on average about 77% of what a man does for the same job. so we tried to move forward with a fair shot for women with paycheck fairness. but republicans said no, we're not even going to consider, take that up. you're hearing some of the same arguments that you're hearing now in regards to proceeding on the debate on the minimum wage. my friend from texas talked
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about the affordable care act. we're proud that the affordable care gives a fair shot for all americans to have access to quality, affordable health care. millions of americans today have quality health insurance coverage that they didn't have before the passage of the affordable care act. it's working. we now know that insurance companies can't discriminate against women or anyone based upon preexisting conditions. those days are over. fair shot for health care access for all americans. we know that small business owners now can get competitive plans and they can choose among a lot of different type of plans. fair shot for small business owners to be treated equally with larger companies in regards to the insurance marketplace. we've done that. and we've expanded medicare to close that coverage gap known as the -- as the doughnut hole for prescription drug coverage. and no longer any co-payments on
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preventive health care. we've extended medicare because we want a fair shot for our seniors for their security, and that's why our caucus defends the social security system knowing how important it is for our seniors. and, yes we do fight for our children a fair shot for our children means that we support head start and we support affordable higher education because then we know that's the ticket to economic growth. but in a few moments -- in a few moments we'll have a chance for a fair shot for working families in this country by moving to consider the minimum wage law. we haven't adjusted the minimum wage law for a long time. i heard my friend from texas talk about the job issues. every time that we've increased the minimum wage our economy has grown and there's a reason for that. there's a reason for that. this will put $34 billion into the economy. that's going to help grow the economy. it lifts 2 million americans out of poverty.
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think about this. if you work 40 hours a week and you receive the minimum wage, there's not a state in this country where you can get affordable housing. you can't support your family on the minimum wage in the united states of america. by passing the minimum wage, we give 28 million americans a raise. this is a fair shot for all workers in this country. and let me just dispel some of the rumors that are out there. the average age of a person on minimum wage is 35 years old. we're not talking about college students. we're talking about people trying to support a family on minimum wage. and they can't do it. many have children. a majority are women. it's time that we answer this inequity in our system. we haven't increased the minimum wage. and, in fact, if you look at what it was in 1968, this increase will basically get us back to where we were in 1968.
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it will help our economy. we've heard these projections before that every time we do this that it will kill jobs. it doesn't do that. look at the history. look at what's happened on the previous increases in the minimum wage. our economy has gotten stronger, it has grown stronger. so madam president, it is time to give a raise to american workers. it's time to help a growing middle class. it is time that we give a fair shot to working families in america. i would urge my colleagues to vote to proceed on this debate. don't continue a filibuster. let's give america a fair shot and i urge my colleagues to support the motion to proceed. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor.
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mr. enzi: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: thank you madam president. i rise to offer rebuttal to the claims my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are making about their proposal to enact an unprecedented increase in federal minimum wage. i come at this issue from a former small business owner and an employee who once worked for the minimum wage. i once started as a stock boy. another time i was a window washer. i learned some important things while i was doing that. i learned some work ethic. i learned to show up on time. i learned to do the job well. and to learn what the other skills were that went with it so that i could advance. and eventually i got the schooling and the skills and the work ethic to own my own business. my colleagues gloss over the fact that minimum wage is for entry-level employees unskilled workers. young people and those new to the work force are those who typically earn the minimum wage
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because itsbecause it's their first job or it's their first opportunity to gain career skills. this is evidenced by the fact that a majority of minimum-wage workers are between the ages of 16 and 24. these are the jobs where the workers learn to be dependable and how to work with other employees how to do that work ethic. a lot of them don't know how to run a cash register, they don't know how to make change. they don't know how to greet a customer. they don't know how to interrupt their texting in order to wait on the customer. this is why two-thirds of the employees who start at the minimum wage are earning more than the minimum wage within a year. they learn how to do those things. they pick up skills. be was talking to me about the people getting minimum wage are all these dead-end jobs like the fast food. well i just happened to be standing next to a guy that was working at burger king and he said, wait a minute i started there six months ago. i started at minimum wage. i learned the job.
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i'm dependable. i show up. i know what the other work is. i'm a supervisor now. in six months, i'm a supervisor. i'm making a lot more than the minimum wage. and in another year, i might have my own store. well that might have some validity because i have a friend in cheyenne that owns some mcdonalds and he always points out to me the other people in wyoming that now own mcdonalds that used to work for him who all started at a minimum wage. you've got to start somewhere. a lot of people think that when you graduate from college you're supposed to move into an executive position. chances are you'll get a job and you'll start at the bottom in that company. and if you do your work well and you learn the skills and you become dependable, you will work your way up. and you will make more money. now, even more troubling are the claims my colleagues are making to justify this particular increase. increasing the federal minimum wage by nearly 40% represents an
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arbitrary and unprecedented increase which is largely unsupported by economic analysis analysis. both in the health, education labor and pensions committee and on this senate floor advocates of this bill have declared that an increase to $10.10 an hour would restore the minimum wage to the purchasing power it had in 1968. they make this claim because they use the consumer price index to justify their point of view. what they're doing is starting an inflation cycle. look at this. if somebody's making $7 and they get moved to $10 the person that's working for you for $9 has to go to $12 and the person at $11 has to go to $14 and so on up. you can't put the new guy on with no skills at a wage higher than the people who were there before. so everybody gets a pay raise. and that's wonderful. and it goes all the way up the ladder.
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it doesn't just stop at the $14 level. and, in fact, it even affects seniors. the seniors' cost of living is based on wages not on what it costs a senior to buy something. so everybody in america is going to get a raise and that was wonderful except -- and here's the catch -- in order to pay for those raises, the money has to come from somewhere. so if you like the dollar deal at your fast food, get ready for $1.50 at your fast food. yeah right it's only a 40% increase so it ought to be $1.40. but a buck and a half sounds better than $1.40. so they're going to have to raise it to the next level where they can pick up the customers where it will sound good. yeah. so yes you get a 30% increase but the cost of what you buy goes up 30%. did you get ahead? i don't think so.
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the only one that gains in that's the federal government. you moved into a higher tax bracket. that's how we raise taxes in america. we cause an inflation cycle we get people more money we make them pay more taxes and all they get to buy is what they bought before. so that purchasing power of 1968 will go up to purchasing power of 2009 and beyond because the prices will have to go up. now, my colleagues are quick to deny the c.b.o. estimates that we've all seen which suggest their proposed plan would result in a loss of a half a million jobs. the minimum wage does not need to go up for minimum-wage employees to get a raise. the proposal before the senate throws cold water on job creation and it adds to the burdens businesses are already facing under the president's failed health care program. instead, the senate should be considering proposals which promote job growth. work force investment act's been out there for eight years. it would train millions of people to jobs that are
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available in their community right now. it would give them skills beyond minimum wage. let's consider tax reform. growing u.s. exports approving the keystone x.l. pipeline, as several of my colleagues and i recently highlighted. but let me also speak on a personal level about the minimum wage. i've noted many times i was a small business owner. my wife and i operated our own shoe stores in wyoming and montana. i know that all small business owners have families their own and the family that works with them. one cannot credibly claim to be helping workers while at the same time hurting the businesses that employ them, especially under the guise of helping working families. now, at our shoe store we hired people who didn't have the basic skills. some of them had never run a cash register, they'd never sold anything they weren't sure how you dressed in the business community. we put them through courses. each course resulted in a pay raise.
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for several people, after several months, they were actually able to earn what they were paid. yes, it costs money to train people especially those who have little or no skills. and those are ones that we need to help. so increasing the minimum wage, congress could shut the employment door on the very individuals they're trying to help. small businesses are the driver of our economy. they take these unskilled workers and they train them. the simple fact is that an increase in minimum wage is of no benefit to a worker without a job or a job seeker without a prospect to getting a job. i want to cover that tax problem again, the inflation thing. minimum wage increases also start an inflation cycle. when some people get a wage increase then everyone has to get a wage increase to recognize those who know more, who do more are more reliable and have more skills.
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to pay everyone more, prices have to go up. when this happens people will make more, but they have to spend more, so they actually don't get ahead. the only one who benefits is the federal government because they get a tax increase. now, at some point someone actually has to produce more to get more. that can be done with new skills or a new idea with training. the problem we're facing is one of minimum skills, not minimum wages. the effect may be low wages but the cause is low skills. we need to address those workers who have few if any, of the skills they need to compete for a better job and command higher wages. we need to start thinking in terms of skills, the kind of skills that will help students support themselves and their families in the future, that will empower our current work force to pursue higher paying jobs and those without a job to become self-sustaining. i sincerely hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle
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will reconsider their plans to continue pushing this effort. there are a number of bills this senate can consider today that would promote job creation over an arbitrary increase in the federal minimum wage. our focus should be on small businesses and creating a business environment that's friendly for growth, that builds jobs that give people jobs that pay more than the minimum wage. higher prices, higher taxes and fewer jobs is not what wyoming and the rest of the country needs in these fragile economic times. i yield the floor and reserve the balance of my time. mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: i first want to say to my colleague while we disagree on this issue i agree wholeheartedly with his observations about training people for this 21st century economy. i have enjoyed working with him so much on the help committee. madam president, i have nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of both the majority and minority leaders of the senate. i ask unanimous consent that
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these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you madam president. i am on the floor today to talk about the minimum wage bill that is before us this week, and once again, i have the opportunity to come here and say that washington d.c., is absolutely decoupled with the conversations that people are having in colorado whether they are republicans, democrats or independents and we have another example of that here today during this debate. if you can call it a debate, madam president, because once again, there are people in the united states senate who are using their prerogatives as senators to keep us from debating a bill fully and to keep us from actually voting on a bill. an up-or-down vote on a bill that the vast majority of americans support whether they are democrats republicans or independents and there is a reason why america supports this legislation, because right now
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if you work 40 hours a week in the united states of america, in the greatest country in the world, at a federal minimum wage you make barely over $15,000 a year. 40 hours a week, week after week after week, you make $15,000 a year. a worker in this country with a spouse and two kids, a family of four a typical family in this country, depending on the single minimum wage paycheck, is in deep trouble. they're not just below the minimum wage. the family that makes -- i'm sorry. that family makes two-thirds of the poverty level. a breadwinner in a family of four working at the minimum wage is more than $8,000 below the poverty line. that family with a full-time breadwinner is impoverished in
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the united states of america to the tune of $8,000. if you have got a family that depends on you to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table that's not enough to get by. it's not even close. it's not even close. it may be hard for people here who are paid $174,000 a year to understand what it would be like to live on $15,000 but let's think a little bit madam president, about what that family's life is like. the united states department of agriculture says that even under the cheapest plan possible, the thriftiest plan possible, cutting every single corner, spending as little as can be spent, it costs over $7,000 a year to feed a family of four with growing kids. $7,000 under the most difficult circumstances possible. so at least half of our family's $15,000 paycheck goes just to
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groceries. just to feeding the family. just to keeping them nourished. after payroll taxes that leaves a family with less than $7,000 to cover every other cost. that's it. food is half of what you bring home an you're -- and you're left with $7,000. in denver where i live, my family lives the average rental unit costs over $12,000 a year. that's an average. that includes tiny studio apartments. in denver, this family of four would have to squeeze into a rental unit well under half that cost. they need to live in a space woefully inadequate for their needs for their family, for their children, and that family would have to stretch their pocket change, whatever is left, after they spend the money they need barely need to feed their children after they spend the money they barely need to house their family, they somehow have to cover utilities medicine,
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health clothes transportation, school supplies and the countless other things that life throws at us. it cannot be done. it's simple arithmetic. a family like the one i just described needs thousands of additional dollars of federal and local government just to get by. we don't want to have a minimum wage that's so low that people that are working 40 hours a week have to be on public assistance just to support their families. think about how crazy that is. someone working full time, 40 hours a week at a minimum job today -- a minimum wage job today needs thousands of dollars in support from the government to provide for their family. that's not what we want in america, and the situation is a lot worse than it used to be because the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation so its costs increase. as costs rise, the minimum wage loses its purchasing power it stays the same until congress
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raises it, which is why we're trying to have this debate here. there is no one else that can do this in america. democratic and republican congresses that will come to this over the years have found ways of doing it. congress has raised the minimum wage over and over again for precisely that reason. even so, even so today madam president, as we stand here on this floor with a responsibility to the american people our minimum wage is down substantially from where it used to be. the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour. that's $3.44 -- i'm sorry. stands at $7.25 an hour today. that is below what it was in 1968 adjusted in real inflation-adjusted dollars. it's a $7,000 gap which makes a huge difference to the family of four we just considered trying
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to survive on the minimum wage. in 1968, in 1968, a minimum wage job kept a family of three out of poverty. that's what the congress did in 1968. they said if you work 40 hours a week your family ought to live outside of poverty above the poverty line. a full-time worker with two children was 20% 20% above the poverty line. today that same family is 19% below the poverty line, all because the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation. it also hasn't kept pace with average earnings. in 1968, the minimum wage was 54% of the average hourly pay for a u.s. worker. today it's just 36%. at the same time, even when you count for inflation college costs are three times what they were four decades ago. it's no wonder, madam president that working families i heard from in colorado feel like they are working harder than ever before but falling farther behind.
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the bill we're talking about today, the bill that's on the floor raises the federal minimum wage by 39% to $10.10 an hour. that's actually less -- that is actually less than the 47% increase that's required to get back to the 1968 level. so we are still not going to be back where we were in 1968, but we will make progress in the sense that people who are earning the minimum wage will no longer be living in poverty. but consider what this bill does for a family's ability to provide for itself. look at just one major federal safety net program the supplemental nutrition assistance program or snap. the food stamps is what that is. the reason the house of representatives held up the farm bill for so long was over the issue of food stamps. so as we think about what we're doing here and the debate that we're having, i think it's important to keep that in context. this is a program that millions of low-income families depend on in order to eat.
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this minimum wage bill would reduce snap enrollments by over 7.5. -- by over 7.5%, because people would now be making a minimum wage as a result. that's over 3.1 million americans who would no longer have to depend on the program to feed their kids. so if you're voting for this, you're voting to reduce the rolls on food stamps by three million americans. it's not a virtue that we have those three million americans on food stamps in this country. they ought to be earning a living wage. we would save $46 billion in snap payments over the next decade if we passed this bill. it applies to other programs as well. two-thirds of americans who earn under $10 an hour use public assistance in some form. two-thirds. two-thirds. two-thirds. working families, americans who actually have a job, who are working 40 hours a week cost the government about $243 million a year through programs like snap,
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medicaid and other safety net programs. raising the minimum wage makes american workers less dependent on these programs to support their families. so there are compelling reasons madam president, to raise the minimum wage. there is a compelling reason why all the surveys show that the american people, no matter what party they're in, think we ought to raise the minimum wage, yet in a few hours if nothing changes, a minority of senators will most likely not even come to the floor to vote on this but will use their powers in the senate to block a vote, to block an honest up-or-down vote about whether we ought to raise the minimum wage in this country. they don't even want us to have a proper debate on this bill, much less pass it. what is so radical about what we're trying to do that they won't even let us have an up-or-down vote? is this somehow unprecedented? is what we're talking about unknown in the annals of the united states senate? actually madam president it isn't. since the minimum wage was
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enacted by the congress in the 1930's, we have managed to raise the minimum wage, madam president, on ten different occasions in 70 years. we've raised the minimum wage very very routinely to try -- not always successfully -- to try to keep pace with inflation and we've done it many times. democratic congresses have raised the minimum wage. republican congresses have raised the minimum wage. democratic presidents have signed minimum wage laws into law. republican presidents have signed minimum wage laws into law. president eisenhower signed a 33% increase in the minimum wage in 1955. president nixon signed a 44% minimum wage increase into law in 1974. george h.w. bush signed a 27% minimum wage increase into law in 1989. in 1996, a republican-controlled congress enacted a 21% minimum wage increase, which president clinton signed into law and
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most recently, in 2007, president george w. bush signed a 41% increase into law. you can see on this chart madam president -- and i sigh to my friend from louisiana i'm winding up. you can see on this chart madam president, all the different times that the minimum wage has been raised and by how much. if you look at the ten different times we've increased the minimum wage, the average increase has been about 41%. this increase increases it by 39%. that's below average. that's below average but you hear -- to hear some people talk you would think this bill is an unprecedented assault on american capitalism. tom delay described the minimum wage earlier this year as unconstitutional. others say it doesn't affect a lot of workers. the speaker several years ago before he was speaker said he would -- quote -- commit suicide before he voted on a clean minimum wage bill. this makes no sense. it is at war with our history. i see that my colleagues are
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here. i ask and beg my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that are not allowing this to have an up-or-down vote on something that the american people want, whether they are democrats republicans or independents, allow us to have that vote, and with that i yield the floor. thank you madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you madam president. i believe our side has 38 seconds left. i would ask unanimous consent for an additional 60 seconds. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: what was the request? mr. vitter: for an additional 60 seconds 30 to the 38 seconds remaining. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: i come to the floor simply to bring up what i consider a very important issue which we've never voted on and that is the basic principle that washington should be treated like all other americans with regard to whatever law we pass, including obamacare and specifically i have my no
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washington exemptions proposal regarding obamacare that is has yet to get a vote. i'll be filing that proposal as an amendment to the portman-shaheen bill. as we can remember, madam president, late last year it was filed as an amendment to believe that bill, when that bill was on the floor previously wand apped there was general agreement after some back and forth that it should and would get a vote. that was reported in "the hill" september 17, that senator reid agreed to a vote on the amendment in the context of that bill. senator portman agreed to this concept, the same time, september 18, on the senate floor. and senator shaheen on september 18. so i'm refiling it as an amendment to the same bill. i look forward to this important debate. i look forward to a vote. and, obviously if an
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alternative in the near future like a stand-alone vote is presented, i'll be happy to accept that as well. i look forward to coming back to the floor madam president,. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. vitter: to debate this important issue. thank you madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you madam president. now, we believe that every american who works 40 hours a week deserves a fair shot at getting out of poverty. and under the present minimum wage laws, that doesn't happen. you can work hard with pride as americans do and work that 40 hours and still be below the poverty line. that is basically not part of what america is all about. because america says to everybody, you work hard, you can provide a decent life for you and your family. and since the minimum wage has stagnated, that doesn't happen. since 1968, the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation and lost a third of
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its value. that is not a fair shot for americans. a full-time minimum wage worker makes only about $15,000 a year. not a fair shot for americans. it's wrong and it flies in the face of the american dream. madam president, at the state of the union we each get one guest. i brought a young woman named sha rinch qua elliott. let me tell you about her. shariqua is a cleaner at kennedy airport. she scrubs toilets and floors from 10:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning. after the overnight shift she hops on buses to take her daughters to school in different parts of the borough of brooklyn. only then is she able to get home and take care of her household. for her hard work, she is paid $8 an hour, not enough. when you talk to shariqua she is
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not angry but do you know what raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would do for her? $80 a week. it would allow her to provide her children the barest of necessities. when kids can't get clothes and can't get a decent meal, when they're not in school. when they can't get any toys for christmas. that's not america. this woman isn't a are free loader. she is getting on buses going two hours to kennedy airport working eight hours from 10:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning, getting back on the bus then finding two more buss to take care of her children. and she can't make enough money to get out of poverty? what kind of country is this? it is hard to believe on both the economics and the moral issue that we have opposition to even let this come to a debate from the other side of the aisle.
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we know what raising the minimum wage will do. to the millions of shriquas it gives them a live of some-degree of dignity gives their children a little more, probably not a lot, of the basic necessities. to our economy it pumps pallone into the economy. i would bet most americans would say even if it costs me a little more a nickel more on my hamburger, to give people like shariqua most americans are generous people and they would say that's fair. and here our colleagues, they're back in the 19th century saying we shouldn't do this. it's hard to believe. when you think of the 1890's and the 1930's and how people struggled to get a decent life and then you think of the beauty of the 1940's and 1950's and 1960's and 1970's and 1980's when people knew if they worked hard they could at least achieve
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a decent life and that dream the american dream symbolized by that lady who holds the statute in the city and the harbor the city i represent it's flickering out and here we have a chance to at least have it lit up a little more, we say no what is going on in america? so our colleagues are saying the economy isn't growing as fast as it should yet they don't want to pump money into the economy. our bill is a win-win. 73% of all americans a majority of republicans support a $10.10 wage increase. tim pawlenty, former governor of minnesota told his colleagues support the wage. when you have a few small interest groups holding this back it's a shame. so i would urge my republican colleagues to look at our economy and then look into their
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hearts and i am confident that if they did that, they would have a change of heart and let us bring this and let us pass this bill. i'll say one final thing madam president. if we don't succeed this time, we believe strongly in a fair shot for everybody including those who are paid minimum wage and work hard and long. we will this bill to thompson again and again and again -- to the floor again and again and again and like unemployment insurance, sooner or later, we will get it done. we will get it done. the american dream. a fair shot for everyone demands no less. i yield the floor. mr. harkin: madam president how much time do we have left? the presiding officer: there is eight minutes remaining on the democratic side. mr. harkin: madam president in
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a few moments we're going to vote here in the senate on whether we're going to bring the minimum wage bill to the floor for debate and a vote. in a few minutes it will be clear where each senator stands. who in this chamber is going to stand with millions of americans who work full time for a living but who are left in poverty or the brink of poverty struggling toking to make ends meet. who is going to vote to give these good people a fair shot at the american dream and who's going to vote against them. we're going to find out in just a few minutes. there's no question that working families need a raise. 14 million children in america that's one in every five, is in a family that would get a raise under our minimum wage bill. businesses need a raise. over 600 economists, seven nobel prize winning economists said the lack of demand is what is hurting businesses in
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america. it's people don't have enough money to go into their stores on main street and buy something. businesses need customers. you raise the minimum wage, the people that are getting the raise, they aren't going to go to paris france, to spend that money. they're going to spend it right on main street and that's what our businesses need. our economy needs a raise. when businesses do better, they hire more workers 1993 they add jobs and it generates more economic growth. people in poverty definitely need a raise. this bill, our minimum wage bill will lift an estimated seven million people out of poverty. all working families need a raise. some of my friends on the republican side said, well, not all of this goes to people in poverty. that's absolutely true. because 12 million people who have family income between $20,000 and $60,000 a year will also get a raise. what's wrong with that? these hardworking families need to be able to, you know, put
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some money aside for a rainy day, provide for their kids' education, maybe buy a new car, buy a new home, upgrade what's wrong with that? so yes this helps a lot of american families to get a fair shot at the american dream. i might just add taxpayers need a raise in the minimum wage. right now we're spending about one-third of a trillion dollars, $243 billion a year, on social programs to help families who are struggling to make ends meet who are low-income or are in poverty. it's been said it's estimated that the minimum wage bill that we have will save $4.6 billion a year in money we won't have to pay for food stamps. $46 billion over ten years taxpayers will save. when we increase the minimum wage. because people will have the money, they'll be able to go
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out and buy their own food. they won't need food stamps. so again any way you look at it we need to raise the minimum wage. but i want to pick you were where senator schumer talked about. it's about real people. this is not about some kind of abstract thing. this right here, this is alicia mccrery of northwood iowa, came to testify before our committee. she has four boys, moved to northwood, iowa from another state, she was in a very abusive relationship, wanted to get her kids to a safe place so she moved there with her four boys. and she testified. she works at a fast food restaurant makes $7.65 an hour has four boys. amazing woman, she was working very hard. rides a bus 20 miles to work each way every day to get to work. she wants to work full time but the bus which costs her $10 a day, by the way only runs until 3:00 p.m. so she has to leave by then.
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her wages are so low that every day she has to tell her children they can't have things that their friends have. they can't play a certain sport. they can't all get a haircut at the same time. they can't even buy shoes at the same time. because she can't afford it. alicia does not want to be on public assistance but she has to be. she's participating in a program run by the north iowa community action agency to help her achieve self-sufficiency and get off the system because she wants to support herself through her own work. here's her own words. if the minimum wage is increased it would be very helpful to nigh family. by see more reductions in tanf -- that's her public assistance -- and food assistance and would see another increase in my rent, but that would be okay. i will have more money overall and it would come from my own hard work and my family will be better off. i want to work and stand on my own two feet. i work very hard doing my job and i believe i am word $10.10
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an hour. if you can move forward with increasing the minimum wage, my family will be more successful in reaching our goal of a better life. this is the real people that will be helped by increasing the minimum wage. now, i've listened to a lot of debate here on the floor. objections from my friends on the republican side. i've heard a lot of talk about the keystone pipeline and the high-paying jobs it would create. i don't doubt it probably would other. unless alicia is ready to pick up and move her four kids to texas and become a petroleum engineer, it's not going to help her one bit. i haven't heard one offer from the other side that will be a single solution that would help alicia's life be better. so the keystone pipeline isn't going to help alicia, a fast food worker who works hard every
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day, not going to put food on her table help them get a haircut, buy a computer so they can do their homework. a minimum wage increase will do that. a minimum wage increase will give alicia a raise. so the american people are calling for us to pass this bill. desperately, desperately. the time has come, in fact, it's past time, to do the right thing. the morally correct thing. to raise the minimum wage. the time has come to give realistic hope, realistic not false hope but realistic hope to people like alicia mccrery and so many people in our country who work hard every day millions of working americans,to, to give them a realistic hope that our economic system is not going to continue to leave them further and
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further behind. it is time to say yes to give a fair shot to the american dream, to being a part of the middle class to alicia mccrery and millions of hardworking but low-paid americans. the time has come to raise the minimum wage. madam president, i yield. if there's any time back, i yield impact remaining time. -- yield back the remaining time. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators in accordance with provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to s. 2233, a bill to provide for a federal minimum wage and to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to extend increased expensing limitations and the treatment of certain real property as section 179 property. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that


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