Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 28, 2015

Unemployment Extension Set to Pass, But GOP Digging in on Minimum Wage, Pay Equity

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans say they might block consideration of minimum wage and pay equity bills after Senate Democrats moved to block GOP amendments to the unemployment extension bill expected to pass later this week.

Republicans are upset at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for clamping down on amendments on the unemployment benefits extension. And they’re concerned Democrats are going to do the same on the minimum wage and pay equity bills to come.

As a result, some GOP leaders said they could vote to block those bills from coming up for debate.

“I think a lot of it is going to depend on whether or not they allow us to vote on things that we are for,” said Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D.

Asked if Republicans would vote to take up the two bills, Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said “I think the answer is no.”

Moments earlier, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., complained Reid had shut out the GOP’s ideas for adding jobs proposals to the unemployment bill.

“Once again it appears we are back to the old way of operating here,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “We would like to obviously offer amendments that we think address the real problem, the joblessness rather than the symptoms,” he continued. “But as we speak right now it’s unclear whether we are going to get to offer amendments or not.”

Republicans believe the minimum wage and pay equity bills are primarily Democratic campaign fodder for the November elections instead of serious attempts to legislate.

“None of this is designed to make policy, none of it’s designed to offer solutions, it’s all part of the re-election campaign for people who are desperate to change the subject from this failed policy known as Obamacare,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.

“The way Democrats are handling the unemployment insurance, minimum wage and pay equity bill shows that they are not interested in creating prosperity,” said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. “Just holding show votes.”

Shortening the debate by blocking consideration of the bills would shorten Democrats’ opportunity to grandstand on the floor.

The last time the Senate voted on pay equity in 2012, Republicans united to filibuster the bill. And the last time the Senate voted to raise the minimum wage was in 2007.

Democrats argue that Republicans are simply using process as a fig leaf to cover up their opposition to politically popular policies.

“The fact is they oppose these policies,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “It also a fact that it’s unpopular to oppose these policies, so they are using process as an excuse.”

“It’s silly to kill it at the outset because you can’t have everything you want,” the aide continued.

Their comments come after Reid said he expects to take up a pay equity bill next week, which would require employers to provide pay information when requested and not retaliate against the worker seeking the pay data.

Look for a possible vote on Tuesday, which is Equal Pay Day, designated in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition including women’s and civil rights organizations.

Reid expects to follow pay equity with consideration of a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 an hour.

“Next week, unless something goes wrong, we are going to have a vote on paycheck fairness,” Reid said. “And it’s undetermined at this stage whether we can have a vote on minimum wage next week. [It depends] on how much the Republicans stall us.”

The Senate Democratic aide argued that the unemployment bill is different from the pay equity and minimum wage measures because the unemployment bill is the product of months of negotiations between five Democrats and five Republicans. Opening it up to amendments could undo the compromise.

The aide added no decision has been made on whether amendments would be allowed to the pay equity and minimum wage measures, but Democrats remain open to constructive amendments.

“So far our policy [on amendments] is that they be relevant,” the aide said, adding that they haven’t received any GOP proposals on minimum wage or pay equity.

On unemployment insurance Republicans want to offer several amendments, including a proposal to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and an amendment to give employers a six-month payroll tax holiday and exempt them from the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

Outside groups are also expected to ramp up their lobbying efforts.

A coalition of minimum wage hike supporters, including Smart Capitalists and Business For a Fair Minimum Wage, sent out a list of 13 senators to call to urge them to support the bill.

But many on the list cited their preference that the issue be handled by their states.

“I think the states ought to determine for themselves what their minimum wage ought to be,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., the lead Republican on the unemployment insurance extension. “I just think it’s difficult to say that someone in rural Nevada should have the same minimum wage as someone in New York City, or something.”

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Follow our coverage of the unemployment insurance extension proposals:

Unemployment Extension: How Did Your Senator Vote?

Unemployment Extension Vote Not Worrying House Republicans

Boehner Still Cool to Senate Unemployment Extension Bill

Unemployment Extension Fight Pits Portman Against Boehner

Doctors Win, Jobless Lose: The GOP Confronts New Perception Problem

  • sto

    Where are the non millionaire congressmen? Oh thats right show big buisness the perks that you have while shoveling the people to the back of the line. Especially when it comes to wages. Oh and by the way dont tip your waitress or doorman or postman they might get used to it…. did you notice its still april fools day…. well the joke for that is all of the above is true. period. ps how bout all ya all take minumum wage for the time that your working minus vacations and speaches you make money at. We the people are watching! We will remember november!

  • NeedsVacation


    Contact John Boehner’s office until the phones are unplugged:
    John Boehner stated the re-implementation of benefits will be “difficult”? Is that really the attitude you want to have towards long-term unemployed seeking jobs? Its “difficult so give up, huh?

    Washington, D.C. Office
    1011 Longworth H.O.B.
    Washington, DC 20515
    (202) 225-0600

    *The number has been changed 3 times

    • Shizue Leigh Hicks

      Get your calls in this week. The House is taking a 2-week break after April 10th.

      • ivan Argenal

        I will call.. I’ve been trying to find a job for a while with no luck. I’m seriously thinking of getting “retooled” to do something different. (HVAC or solar engineering certificates)

        It would definitely ease my mind if they passed an extension.

        • The Crying Boozer Tangerine

          Good luck with solar. Republicans over regulate it in every state except California to make sure its only profitable for Big Energy.

      • Disposal mind

        No surprise there. Our Senate and House has to be the laziest bunch of white people ever. How many vacations to they take for christ sake?

    • mitch

      Sounds to me like the republicans will let this pass the house if the dem’s would just let them have an amendment or 2 on it. Why is reid digging in and not allowing amendments? Not defending either side, just saying this would easily pass if they would throw the republicans a bone on it.

      • stevenharnack

        Because the way amendments are added is to try to make it unacceptable to the bills authors or to get something passed that would not stand on its own merits.

      • NeedsVacation

        This bill needs to pass for the 5 month extension and discuss the amendments later. This is a short 5 month extension and they can iron out the details after Easter.

        I called and left a message for Boehner.

        I recommend everyone call and let your issue be heard.

      • Tricia White

        It is the same old story, too many cooks spoil the broth. Some of the amendements have nothing to do with unemployment. They are just holding the extension hostage for their own gain on another issue. This country has become no more than the Hatfields and McCoys!

    • Robin Collins

      The mailbox is full now. He will blow us all off.

  • rsubber

    All of this is destructive political maneuvering. The news media and the cable TV talking heads should be pointing out the obvious: the Republicans basically are obstructing everything that would constitute the people’s business, obstructing everything that would boost growth in our national economy and help to create jobs for millions of Americans who want to work.
    More on my blogs:
    Barley Literate
    History: Bottom Lines

    • The Crying Boozer Tangerine

      All this bluster is to disquise Boehner’s stock investment in Keystone XL. Someone forgot to tell him that its for oil delivery instead of Booze.

  • Sebastian Klay

    Guess what has no hopes of passing anytime soon??….demos should have put it in the UNCONTESTED budget months ago…bad move…reid is selling EUC down the drain..this is ALL on the Demos..Obamacare is single-handedly..politically..destroying EUC…

  • Sebastian Klay

    plus..where is the Lying King ahead of the EUC “cause”??..he’s no where to be found…I see no media attention on this at all on major network cable news..nothing…folks..EUC is dead..and as we get closer to the fall??..the unemployed become more and more and more useless…politically..

  • DL

    Is anyone surprised? The only thing republicans know how to do is block and obstruct. They have no ideas, no plan, no desire to get the country moving forward. It’s a mass hysteria really.

    • justaguy

      Actually, the Republicans have several ideas but Reid will not allow amendments. You should read the entire article.

      • Eliza Marez

        People don’t read articles anymore, just headlines. I agree! There was plenty that was offered but Reid shut them down! I don’t understand, so someone that CLAIM to want to pass the UI bill he sure isn’t doing what it takes to get it done. Negotiate. Add amendments meant to increase employment and get people back to work

      • nevkid

        One amendment was approval of Keystone Pipeline , exempt coal fire plants from carbon emissions, and the other was exempt some employers from ACA. Why can’t they pass on own merits instead of and amendment to another bill. Is the only way to get them passed and if so does it have any benefits for the people or just Business.

    • The Crying Boozer Tangerine

      It’s mass Republican profit is what it is. Their ineptitude and treason only disquises the profits they reap from causing the American economy to tank.

  • justaguy

    Obama, Reid and the dems could care less about the unemployed and their posturing shows it.

    • stevenharnack

      Now we hear from Planet Bizzarro , where black is white and up is down. The Democrats just want a straight vote on benefits for the unemployed, you know, those people that you say they couldn’t care less about, while the Republicans want to play politics and maybe sneak something in for their bosses while they’re at it.

  • NeedsVacation

    Harry Reid should quit pushing this measure if the House wont consider it.

    Call Mr. Reid and tell him to get this done!
    Harry Reid
    Phone: (202) 224-3542

  • RMT

    Legislation for domestic policies have nothing and everything to do with party bickering. The GOP say we need to create more jobs and Dems say we need to assist those struggling from the great recession fallout. Both are right but NOTHING will get accomplished to address either argument. And every domestic issue including minimum wage will have the same fate because these children can’t get past their egos. They get paid to play games and do nothing for the people they represent, and the American people continue to let them. Not sure who is more pathetic.

  • James Morillo

    Keep the pressure up on Congress! Go to and let them hear you!! Contact at least 10 Republican members! Tell them your story. Tell them you will vote. Tell them you will take 5 people to the voting booth with you. Tell them you vote mid-terms and not just the presidential election. Get calling!!

  • annebug

    This whole thing about raising minimum wages and unemployment extensions seems to me to be more of a fight between parties rather than whats right for the people. I wish our government could put down their petty arguing and do whats right to improve our economy. People are hurting and jobs are scarce. Please help and work together for the people. I am sure there is a solution just compromise and realize that making more jobs is important, but also remember that that doesn’t help rural areas. There needs to be a balance between the two.

  • Sal1126966

    I think what the democrats are tired of is the republican playing politics then accusing the democrats of the very thing that they are guilty of. If you are for the unemployment extension then vote yes, if you are for job creation vote yes..The republicans need to vote on the bills before them and stop trying to hijack them.

  • stevenharnack

    If the GOP has some ideas on “job creation” then they should write a bill to deal with that. I really hate this practice of adding amendments to bills that don’t address the bill itself. It’s used as a ploy to block the bill, to sneak in legislation that would never stand on its own, etc.. It’s one of the first of many rules changes needed; no amendments that do not deal with the crux of the bill!

  • Sebastian Klay

    bu…bu..bu.but..Reid said this was agreed upon???…how can an agreed upon measure take 3-4 weeks to pass??…maybe not so??/

  • FedUpInNJ

    John Boehner is ruining the Republican party with his bully attitude. He needs to let this pass the House with no blockage or obstruction to prove Republicans DO care about the American people. If he messes with this it will be the end of the Republican party and there will be no one to blame except him.

  • donald rohan

    first they were using us as leverage for something that they wanted, now its about min. wage we are being used again, when is it going to be about the 2 million people without an income ? these politicians are acting in their own behalf not one thing they have done has been for us the people they promised to represent we are starving out here and they say it would be difficult to retroactively start benefits well maybe they should have passed the extension before it expired it would be less difficult if they just pass it and stop delaying spending all this delayed time on fixing the difficulties IT IS WE THE PEOPLE NOT YOU THE POLITICIANS OR DID I GET IT WRONG

  • MaleMatters

    Re: pay equity

    In general, women not only live longer and enjoy better health than men, who die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death, they also control most of consumer spending and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more of the wealth.

    “Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband.” -

    Sound like an oppressed group in need of yet another equal pay law?

    I suspect that many if not most of women’s advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here’s one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.”

    A thousand laws won’t close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap –, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (political intentions disguised as good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes they make things worse)…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working outside the home if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: “Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing”

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages

    -refuse overtime and promotions

    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years.

    -take more unpaid days off

    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (

    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    “The more alarming wage gap might be the one between mothers and childless women: One recent paper ( found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them.” So why do organized feminists and the liberal media focus only on — and criticize — the wage gap between men and women?

    More in “Does the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at

  • lek

    John Boehner has NO compassion to his fellow Americans
    especially those who are suffering, we as American should petition to impeach
    or throw him out of his office where he does NOT belong, he only represent those rich and famous.

    • Disposal mind

      Boehner only cares if his house office liquor cabinet is kept stocked, at tax payers expense I’m sure.

  • Disposal mind

    As well meaning as the Republicans motives may be in wanting to add amendments to the unemployment bill. Where were they all these months while the extension has lapsed?

  • Tricia White

    I would love to see an amendement that ALL employed persons receive the minimum wage and that people in a tipping profession are not paid less because of the tips. Managers receive a salary and for work well done or goals met they receive a bonus. A tip is provided to an employee for a job well done and is their incentive to service the customer. In essence the employer and not the employee is receiving the benefit of many of the tips by being allowed to pay these employees less than minimum wage. I have always thought this was very wrong and hopefully someday soon something will be done about it.

  • Tricia White

    How about the President telling congress no more weeks off until the Unemployment extension is passed! That ought to seal the deal.

  • Daniel Ryan

    Our Government Is Sick With Greed. Today was the deadline for the Senate to finally act on the UI Extension, after all they have had these same votes needed to pass since March 10 HELLO !!?? Today however was not another “test vote’ or “procedural hurdle” to extend Federal Jobless Benefits not at all. Today The National Right To Work Bill[authored by Mitch McConnell} was amended to the UI Bill by none other than Harry Reid and Dean Heller!!! This bill is totally ILLEGAL and the Senators all know it!!!! This bill basically bars the IRS from going after the most wealthy American Corporations that pay no federal income taxes at all!!! And they have the audacity to hide behind the poor in order to commit this theft against their country!!!~ Wake up America, Congress has just shown how screwed up their priorities truly are. I am digusted with both parties. Now final passage seems assurred??? I know they can not wait to vote to end debate on this Illegal Bill Tommorrow!!! Surprising how fast they can move when they want something done… I am sure after Boehner gets this piece of hot garbage he will “wrestle’ with it until the last minute the poor have hope and pass it swiftly because he is after all owned by The Almighty Republican Party sadly so are the democrats. Enjoy all those huge kickbacks on both sides of the aisles guys. The poor and unemployed were just your puppets all along

  • Daniel Ryan

    Now we know why Obama has remained silent THIS IS WAY BIGGER THAN HIS OFFICE. Wall Street just pimped the Unemployed

    • The Crying Boozer Tangerine

      HAHAHA THAT sounds so true but isn’t. Obama has advocated for this since day one. The republicans just had to find a way to attach their tollbooth crony money concessions onto business as usual, which is business as usual for Republican money cronies.

  • Manny Bartow

    One can’t help but wonder how Hussein Obama intends fund the civilian national security force he desires:

  • Dan Thomas
  • Manny Bartow

    Here we find a brief introduction to an individual who is actually serious about reducing central government debt:

  • mike

    It does not provide any extra tiers of benefits or provide benefits for
    those had already run out of unemployment prior to December 28, 2013. I was cut off a week b4 dec 28 what a joke

  • lee luke

    Call Boehner and sign petition for impeaching him at We The People. Let’s make the people who represent us DO WHAT WE WANT Thats why they are there

  • Robin Collins

    I jus called an Boehner’s message box is full I am sure he wil never listen o it since he is anti American. We need to oust this communist.

  • Simple simon

    I am convinced that the more J Boeher and his supporters play with the lives of many hardworking patriotic Americans, (through no fault of their own were terminated and find difficulty finding new employment)….the good Lord “will unleash his vengence on the speaker” and all those who continue to hurt the unfortunate-it was unfortunate to have lost our jobs, but this deliberate act of wanting more on the bill ( which has no relevance to US unemployed workers) is totally unacceptable !

    Democrats came to work holding
    out hope that Republicans – in the face of guaranteed eventual passage
    of the unemployment insurance bill – would grant unanimous consent to
    waive some procedural requirements and allow a vote to take place.

    Why would anyone want to add these amendments to the Unemployment Insurance bill ? This is A POLITICAL BLACKMAIL ON THE BACK OF HONEST AMERICANS!


    1.Authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,
    2.Require the approval of various natural gas export licenses
    3.Bar the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing greenhouse gas emission limits at power plants
    4. Prevent the enactment of a carbon tax
    5.Change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full time worker to 40 hours per week
    6. Delay for a year any elements of the ACA taking effect after January 1, 2014, including the individual mandate
    7. Repeal the Medical Device Tax passed as part of the ACA
    8. Repeal every other element of the ACA not specifically addressed in the rest of the amendment
    9.Extend multiple tax breaks and exemptions for businesses
    10.Create restrictions on the enactment of other federal regulation AND
    11. Almost as an afterthought, the amendment threw in a job-training program.

    Unsurprisingly, Democrats declined the deal. I am using up my retirement benefits-I have gone through more than $30,000 for my family-from debts that I need to pay, medical bills, car repairs among other basic necessities.

    Do you CARE???

  • Carolyn Spikes

    When will the GOP realize that they are not playing marbles? They’re messing with people’s lives.

    Stop crying and doing what is needed in order to allow people and the country to move on and begin to rebuild. It’s hard to believe that we are waiting on adults to make adult decision; these people are acting more like babies.

    God Bless America!!!!

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    While the crisis in the Ukraine, is newsworthy and important, let us not forget the more than two million unemployed workers, and their families, who had loss their benefits last December, still waiting for the Unemployment Extension Bill to pass in the senate. Since late last December, the Republicans have dragged their feet, and have put off passing the bill, while millions of families have been suffering on account of it. For the first time in many years, the senate failed to extend the benefits for the unemployed, leaving these poor families to suffer eviction, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and homelessness. Even though the congress quickly approved of Billions of dollars in aid for the Ukraine. How is this possible? How can the republicans justify spending Billions of tax payer’s dollars on foreign aid, yet refuse to help poor Americans at home? These workers were not asking for something that they haven’t already paid into over the course of their working years. These families need help, and need it now. If our country can use tax payer’s money to Bailout Huge Corporations, they should be also capable of giving assistance to those who have worked for it. The problem isn’t with the poor and unemployed in this country, but with the government spending billions of dollars on Corporate welfare and corporation bailouts. What happened after all those bailouts?? The CEO’S rewarded themselves with huge bonuses on the tax payer’s tab. That was the thanks we received from Corporate America for our help. The Republican Party likes to represent their party as being the party for “family values”. But where are their values? Charity should begin at home, and it’s been too long now that these unemployed Americans have been suffering, Senators such as John Boehner, have shown their contempt for the poor and less advantaged in this country, and in the coming elections in 2016, the Republican Party will realize their mistake in not supporting these two million unemployed workers.

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