U.S. Senator Richard Durbin said Democrats overwhelmingly support increasing the federal minimum wage to about $10 an hour, higher than the rate proposed by President Barack Obama.
Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said legislation that would raise the wage probably can’t pass in the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner has vowed to block such efforts.
“It’s going to that same room, that little dark room, where Boehner puts all of the bipartisan measures out of the Senate,” Durbin of Illinois told reporters today after a meeting of Senate Democrats. In a politically divided Congress, the House and Senate have refused to take up certain measures approved in the opposite chamber.
Obama has urged Congress to set the federal minimum wage at $9 an hour, up from $7.25 in effect since 2009. During a meeting at the Capitol today, Durbin said it was suggested Obama “would be very supportive of 10” dollars.
Democrats at the meeting heard from Jason Furman, Obama’s economic adviser; Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute; John Arensmeyer, chief executive officer of the Small Business Majority; and Adam Looney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Durbin said.
Raising the minimum wage is “an important economic issue” that sends “a message to working families struggling paycheck to paycheck that we can help them,” Durbin said.