Capitol Building

Morning Action: Democrats to Use Minimum Wage as Wedge Issue

MINIMUM WAGE.  The Senate voted Wednesday to block a bill increasing the federally mandated minimum wage.  David Hawkings suggests Democrats will use this issue for campaigning (sub. req’d):

Long before Wednesday’s totally predictable Senate vote blocking a bill to increase the minimum wage, President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress had embraced their guaranteed consolation prize.

It’s a construct as venerable as the Capitol itself: They will not have the bill, but they are plenty satisfied to have the issue.

In fact, especially if some sunshine newly cast on policy deliberations in the Clinton administration can be considered instructive, the Democrats may have gotten just what they wanted all along from one of the first big show votes of the campaign season.

“This is all about politics,” Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) 49% declared before the Senate came up five votes shortof advancing the minimum wage legislation beyond a GOP filibuster. “This is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted.”

ENERGY EFFICIENCY.  Lawmakers have yet to come to an agreement on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill (sub. req’d):

As the Senate continues to wrangle with the Gordian Knot of reaching an agreement deal on the Shaheen-Portman efficiency bill ( S 2262 ), one GOP senator see a possible opening for a vote on limiting EPA’s hand in regulating greenhouse gases from power plants.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) 42%, said yesterday he’s pushing for a vote on the Whitfield-Manchin bill ( S 1905 ), which would bar EPA from requiring carbon capture and sequestration technology to capture carbon emissions unless certain benchmarks are met.

“That’s one I think we can get a vote on,” he said.

Some moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) andSen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), may well welcome such a vote, which would help shield them from “War on Coal” campaign rhetoric. Ten House Democrats voted for the companion bill ( HR 3826 ) in March, but assuming even a dozen Senate Democrats join all Republicans in backing the measure, it would still fall short of 60 votes.

JOBS ACT.  Lawmakers are considering new JOBS Act measures in the House (sub. req’d):

Lawmakers will weigh several proposals Thursday intended to boost capital formation by relaxing securities regulations.

The measures will be considered at the latest hearing in a series held by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, which comes as lawmakers try to write a JOBS Act 2.0.

Whether a sharply divided Congress can move such a measure in an election year is unclear, but a slew of bills has already been backed by the Financial Services Committee or the full House .

DODD-FRANK.  The debate among lawmakers on how to go about financial reform and a Wall Street overhaul has reportedly begun to thaw:

Supporters and critics of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law are in broad agreement that the time has come to begin discussing changes to the Wall Street overhaul.

It’s a thaw between Democrats and Republicans long frozen in their positions on how best to respond to the financial crisis that rocked the economy in 2008.

Democrats pushed through a new system of regulations with virtually no Republican support in 2010, and for years rejected any changes to the law on the grounds that it would open the door to legislative sabotage by Wall Street and the big banks.

But that’s changing now, with critics of the law increasingly finding bipartisan support for minor and targeted changes.

Read more about Dodd-Frank here.

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