October 20, 2005

Rhode Island’s Senators: They were in Favor of Raising the Minimum Wage before they were Against it.

Carroll Andrew Morse

If I understand the news stories and the roll call votes properly, Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee both voted in favor of and against raising the minimum wage – on the same day.

Senators Reed and Chafee voted in favor of a bill sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy that would have raised the Federal minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. The bill failed, 47-51. Then, Reed and Chafee voted against a bill sponsored by Senator Michael Enzi which would have raised the Federal minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. The bill failed, 42-57.

According to the Associated Press, the difference between the two bills is that the Enzi bill would “provide tax and regulatory relief for small business, permit tips to be credited in complying with minimum wage hikes, and expand the small business exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act” in a way that the Kennedy bill wouldn't.

Senator Reed’s vote appears to be simple party politics. Vote for a Democratic sponsored proposal, vote against a Republican one.

Senator Chafee’s vote is a tad harder to explain. Chafee abandoned the usual gang of Republican liberals – Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, George Voinovich – who voted for the Enzi increase, and joined a coalition of Democrats and mostly-Southern state Republicans(?) to vote down the Enzi increase.

I’m not sure if the Enzi exceptions are good ideas or not. I do know that our national politics shouldn’t be motivated by two sides trying to hang the “You voted against the minimum wage!!!” tag on one another.

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I assume that the mostly Southern Republicans who voted against the Enzi minimum-wage hike did so because they didn't weant to raise the minimum wage, period, not because they preferred the Kennedy bill. Did the list of opponents include DeMint, Burr and Coburn?

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at October 20, 2005 10:52 AM