Last week, the U. S. House Appropriations Committee voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour by 2009. The increase passed as an amendment to the Labor spending bill after seven Republicans broke ranks to pass the increase.

But the right wing leadership objected to the move on the grounds that the committee “shouldn’t be legislating on an appropriations bill,” even though both Senator Frist and Rep. Hastert have done exactly the same thing in the past.

The “next step” for the bill would have been for the House Rules Committee “to decide whether to ‘protect’ the amendment as part of the bill,” followed by a floor vote on their ruling.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-Maryland), who offered the amendment along with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), said they would fight attempts to take the increase out of the bill. “If there is an attempt to strip the amendment on procedural grounds,” they agreed, “we will fight back for the American people. The minimum wage is now at its lowest level in 50 years, and hardworking American families deserve a fair, livable wage.”

But now it looks like the vote will be delayed indefinitely. CongressDaily reported Friday that “the bill would not reach the floor next week” and “there is a chance it would not come up even the following week, and possibly not at all.”

Conservatives don’t dare go on record as opposing a minimum wage increase at a time when 83 percent of Americans support it. So they just won’t allow it to come up.

As it stands now, low end American workers will continue to scrimp by with below poverty level incomes.

Congressmen, meanwhile, have given themselves more than $30,000 in annual cost of living increases during the eight years that have elapsed since the last increase in the minimum wage.

They should be too ashamed to show their face in public.