Local GOP Members of Congress undecided on mininum wage




This week, As part of their 100 Hours Strategy, House Democrats are expected to vote on  legislation that would raise the minimum wage in the U.S. for the first time in 10 years. (roll tape#1 o.q.”$5.15 an hour”)


Jamie Ewing is a member of the Tampa office of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.  That group is strongly in support of the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour (roll tape#2 o.q. “especially a family”)


The bill, called “The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007” or H.R. 2.  It aims to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour in three increments over two years and two months in the U.S.


President Bush and some Republican leaders have expressed a willingness to support a minimum-wage boost if it is offset by tax cuts to small-business owners.


Polk County Republican Congressman Adam Putnam is one such Republican.  John Hambelin is Putnam’s Chief of Staff and Communications Director (roll tape#3 o.q.” any increase in the minimum wage”)


House Democrats campaigned on raising the minimum wage during the 2006 election cycle.  Tampa area freshman Representative Kathy Castor issued a press release at a press event held by ACORN in Tampa on Saturday.


In it, Castor boasts that because of her membership on the Rules Committee and Steering and Policy Committee, she is in a position to assure that the minimum wage proposal goes forward.


She also said that an average CEO earns more before lunchtime than a minimum wage worker earns all year. And adds, “That is wrong.  I’m in Congress to put our priorities back in order.”


Again, ACORN’s Jamie Ewing. (roll tape#2 o.q.”to the working families of this country”)


Brooksville Congresswoman Ginny Brown Waite DID vote for an increase of the minimum wage when it came up before Congress last year.  But her spokesman, Charlie Keller, said that legislation included tax breaks for small business.  He says the Congresswoman is waiting to see what comes before the Congress this week, and therefore has not stated her position.


On Fox News Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that the Democrats plan to introduce and pass the Mininum Wage bill ‘ clean’ that is, without any amendments attached. 


In the Senate, in which Democrats Must get Republican support to pass such a bill, there is talk of adding amendments.  But Congressman Adam Putnam’s spokesman says the Polk County Republican would like the opportunity to add such amendments in the House (roll tape#4 o.q.”on our proposal”)


In 2004, Florida voters passed an increase to the minimum wage, raising it to $6.40 an hour.  But the law also allows for an increase due to inflation.  Last week the wage was increased to $6.67 an hour. 


Warren May is with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.  He says that if the Congress passes and the Presidents signs legislation increasing the Federal Mininum wage to $7.25 cents an hour, Florida’s minimum wage will increase as well (roll tape#5 o.q.”the higher wage prevails”)


And because the Florida Mininum wage is indexed for inflation, May says that means it would probably increase the following year (roll tape#6 o.q.”the Florida wage would prevail”)


And May says that, contrary to what some people may think, there are over 400,000 Floridians earning the minimum wage.


To those who think that’s not enough money to live on, ACORN’s Jamie Ewing would agree, but says getting an increase to $7.25  an hour is a good start (roll tape#7 o.q.”have a chance to live”)


WMNF also attempted to contact Pinellas Congressman Bill Young for his take on the bill….He did not get back to us by air time.  The House is expected to vote on the minimum wage bill later this week.




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