This vote was on an amendment that would have raised the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Rep. George Miller (D-CA) offered the amendment during consideration of a Republican bill that would consolidate dozens of federal job training programs, end a requirement that low-income individuals get priority for services, and make other changes intended to streamline workforce development programs. Under the terms of Rep. Miller’s amendment, the underlying bill would have included an additional provision raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over a two-year period. After the minimum wage hit $10.10, federal officials would have adjusted it annually based on the consumer price index, an official estimate of inflation in the U.S. economy.
Rep. Miller offered his amendment as a “motion to recommit with instructions.” A motion to recommit is the minority's opportunity to torpedo or significantly change a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. If passed, Republican leaders would have been forced to add Rep. Miller’s amendment before allowing a final vote to pass the bill.
Rep. Miller argued that the underlying bill would hurt many low-wage workers and job seekers – the people who need help the most. The motion to recommit would help even things out by giving these individuals a boost in wages, he argued.
“Enough of the attacks on Medicare, Head Start, and now job training. Let's do something different this time. Let's do something that's right. Let's reward work for people who go to work every day in very difficult jobs, in sometimes very dirty jobs, in sometimes very demeaning jobs,” Rep. Miller said. “Now is your opportunity... Let's help these individuals. Let's help these families. Let's raise the minimum wage. It's time for $10.10 an hour.”
Opponents of Rep. Miller’s motion argued that raising the minimum wage would discourage businesses from hiring and increase unemployment. If Congress wanted to help low-wage workers, it should take action to cut down on government spending and red tape, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) argued.
“The best approach right now is to get federal spending under control and government out of the way of the nation's job creators,” Rep. Kline said. “Since the motion to recommit would force this committee to advance a proposal that may hurt workers and job creators and increase unemployment, I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the motion.”
Rep. Miller’s motion to recommit was defeated by a vote of 184-233. Voting “yea” were 184 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 227 Republicans and 6 Democrats. As a result, the House defeated the effort to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.