The Senate is currently engaged in a bitter fight over raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. While there are senators of both parties willing to compromise, the Democratic leadership won't give in — a substantial minimum wage hike is just so appealing to women voters.
According to a report from Politico's Manu Raju and Burgess Everett, moderate Dems like Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin are willing to accept a minimum wage hike that comes in below $10.10. Manchin tells Politico,
They should be able to find the middle ground on minimum wage. Some don’t want $10.10. Some want $9. Some want this. Find the middle. Leadership is committed to $10.10. It’s not a problem, I’ll vote for the $10.10. It’s a problem if you want to get something accomplished.
Begich says he'd be open to a deal that raised the wage to $9.75 per hour.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Thursday, "The reason we picked that number, $10.10, gets you out of poverty — $10 doesn’t. $10.05 doesn’t. We didn't pick that number just to be fun." Sen. Chuck Schumer backed him up: "I think we'll win." He clarified that he means Democrats will win the minimum wage fight and in the midterm elections come November.
It seems unlikely either of those things could come true. Even if Democrats are able to pass a $10.10 bill in the Senate, House Republicans have no plans to bring it to the floor. But President Obama has made 2014 the Year of Raising the Minimum Wage. It was a central part of the State of the Union, and in March, he toured the states reaching out to women specifically on the topic. The White House says that raising the minimum wage would decrease the gender wage gap by 5 percent. The hike to $10.10 is overwhelmingly popular with women.
So Democrats in the House and Senate have followed Obama's lead, campaigning on the issue directly to women. Sen. Kay Hagan's reelection campaign called her GOP opponent's refusal to support a wage hike an "insult to women."
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt disagrees. He tells Politico he won't debate Democrats on legislation they want to use as a campaign issue. "I don’t think there’s any particular reason for us to be party to what is not a serious legislative effort."