Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic bill that would boost the federal minimum wage, handing a defeat to President Obama on a vote that is sure to reverberate in this year's congressional elections. The legislation by Sen. Tom Harkin would have gradually raised the $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months and then would have provided automatic annual increases to account for inflation. The vote was 54-42 in favor of allowing debate on the measure to proceed, six votes short of the 60 Democrats needed to prevail.
Bob Corker was the only Republican to cross party lines and vote "yes." Harry Reid switched his vote to "no," a procedural move that gives him the right to call another vote on the measure. No other Democrats opposed the bill. Susan Collins has said she and some other Republicans would be willing to reach a compromise on a lower figure, but so far, Democrats have shown no inclination to compromise. In a clear sign of the political value Democrats believe the issue has, Harkin and others have said they intend to force another vote on the increase closer to this year's elections.