Dole Pulls Immigration-Reform Bill: Kills Vote to Raise Minimum Wage
Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole yanked an immigration reform bill from the floor yesterday after Democrats indicated they would use the measure to get a vote on the minimum wage.
"We are not going to debate the immigration bill. It is being held hostage now because of the demands on the other side . . . we are not going to be held hostage by Social Security amendments and minimum wage amendments," the irate Republican leader said.
Mr. Dole said he would only proceed with the bill, designed to crack down on illegal immigration, if the Senate agreed to limit its consideration to "relevant amendments only."
But Minority Leader Tom Daschle insisted Democrats be given the opportunity to offer "two nonrelevant amendments," namely one that would raise the minimum wage by 90 cents an hour and another that would prohibit Social Security trust funds from being counted in balancing the budget.
Mr. Dole's decision to pull the immigration-reform measure was the latest example of parliamentary maneuvering between the GOP and Democrats, who've seized every opportunity to attach an amendment that would increase the minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $5.15 an hour.
A bipartisan majority of 56 senators supports raising the minimum wage, as does President Clinton. Mr. Dole, the likely GOP nominee, opposes the measure. So does the business community.
The amendment to raise the minimum wage, sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusettts Democrats, has the strong endorsement of the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations.
"Welcome to the United States Senate. There are some here who don't want to deal with the issues we are attempting to deal with here in these amendments," Mr. Daschle said sarcastically.
Deciding to pull the immigration bill was not an easy decision for Mr. Dole, a tough opponent of illegal immigration. It's a position that's likely to win support in California, a state that could be decisive in the November election.
"Given the significance of Proposition 187 in the last election, it's hard to understand how the Republican Party would, under any circumstances, delay action [on immigration reform] in Congress," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. …