WASHINGTON (AP) — A long-shot Senate Democratic effort to raise the federal minimum wage seemed all but doomed Tuesday when a moderate Republican lawmaker viewed as a potential supporter said she expects to oppose the measure.
That election-year bill, on which the Senate is expected to vote Wednesday, would gradually raise the current $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months. It will need GOP votes to overcome a procedural blockade by most Republican senators, who say the measure would be too costly for employers.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told a reporter Tuesday that about a dozen senators of both parties have expressed interest in finding a compromise with her but haven't reached consensus on a plan. She also said she believes Democrats won't let her try to amend their bill, which she said would mean she'd vote against it.
"It's obvious the votes aren't there for $10.10," she said, adding, "It seems clear to me that politics is trumping concern for low-income workers."
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it was GOP opponents who were showing they don't care.
"Do we believe it's fair that fellow Americans who work full-time should be paid less than a livable wage?" he said on the Senate floor. "I hope not."
Democrats are hoping that even in defeat, the fight will help them attract voters in November's congressional elections by casting Republicans as uninterested in helping struggling families. Republicans say the priority should be passing legislation that would create jobs.
Democrats will need support from at least six Republicans when the Senate votes on whether to consider the bill. Only one — Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. — has publicly said he is likely to vote that way.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will miss Wednesday's vote because he is in his home state in the aftermath of powerful storms there, an aide said. Pryor, in a tough re-election race, had already expressed his opposition to the Democratic bill, saying $10.10 would be too high.