It has been nine years since the federal minimum wage was raised, but during that time members of the U. S. Congress have raised their own salaries nine times, totalling nearly $35,000 a year.
While a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay has not changed from $10,712 for nearly a decade, just a few days ago, House lawmakers cleared the way to hike their pay another $3,300, upping their salaries to $168,500. “... the height of hypocrisy,” Sen. Ted Kennedy called it.
The buying power of the federal minimum wage is currently at its lowest level in 51 years. Eighty-three percent of Americans favor an increase in the minimum wage, yet the House Republican leadership hasn’t allowed a full floor vote on the minimum wage since the last increase went into effect, in 1997.
Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee voted 34 to 28 against attaching a minimum wage amendment to a key spending bill, thus depriving it of a vote on the House floor. But that same committee had agreed to attach the minimum wage amendment to a separate spending measure that funds the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
Upon passage of last week’s amendment, the House leadership announced it would delay bringing the Labor-Health bill to the floor for a vote, and in the meantime, will undoubtedly undertake efforts to strip the minimum wage provision from the bill.
This Congress could well be remembered as the most antipathetic, inconsiderate gathering of congenital hypocrites in the history of the republic.