Lamar Alexander on Jobs
Republican Sr Senator (TN); previously candidate for President
Senator Alexander replied that if he could decide, there would be no minimum.
No minimum wage at all. Not $15.00. Not $10.00. Not $7.25. Not $5.00. Not $1.00.
The comment was delivered quite casually. It wasn't a grand pronouncement shouted by a crazy, hair-on-fire ideologue. Instead, a long time U.S. senator stated with calm confidence that if an employer could find someone desperate enough to take a job for fifty cents an hour, then that employer should have the right to pay that wage and not a penny more. He might as well have said that employers could eat cake and the workers could scramble for whatever crumbs fall off the table.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:
Rep. CHARLES RANGEL (D, NY-15): The House, for weeks, has attempted to save the free world from a fiscal disaster. We have bailed out the banks and those who held mortgages. At the same time, we provided for energy extensions, we provided tax breaks for those people that tax provisions have expired. We provided for hurricane relief, for mental health. So over $1 trillion is out there for this House to ease the pain of millions of Americans.
While we were dealing with these gigantic powers, we overlooked the fact that over the last 12 months the number of unemployed workers has jumped by over 2 million, leaving 10 million Americans struggling for work. These are hardworking people that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
Rep. JERRY WELLER (R, IL-11): This important legislation provides additional needed assistance to the long-term unemployed. It's important that we pass this legislation today as our last act before we leave for the election campaign.
This legislation focuses the most additional benefits on workers and States where the unemployment rate is highest and where jobs are hardest to find. This program continues the requirement that those benefiting from extended unemployment benefits had to have worked at least 20 weeks. Americans were rightly concerned about proposals to eliminate that work requirement and allow 39 weeks or, under the legislation before us today, as many as 59 weeks of total unemployment benefits to be paid to those who have previously only worked for a few weeks.
Opponent's argument to vote No:None voiced.
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.Proponents argument for voting YEA:We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.
This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALEXANDER: Let me begin with this story. In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two employees in a Boston area thrift store. What had the Salvation Army done to earn this lawsuit from the Federal Government? Well, it had required its employees to speak English on the job. The English rule was clearly posted, and the employees were given a year to learn it. But this lawsuit means that a small business in Missouri would have to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they have a clear business reason to require their employees to speak our common language on the job.
So I have an amendment to bring some common sense to this subject. It would be to take $670,000 used by the EEOC, which it is using to bring actions against employers who require their employees to speak English.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KENNEDY: Let's look at what the law is and what the Alexander amendment provides. The law currently says that if there is a need to speak English on the job, fine; employers can require that. But employers cannot use English-only rules as an excuse when they want to fire minorities who are performing the job correctly. In this fact situation, those employees had performed the job correctly for 5 years.
In addition, this amendment reduces the EEOC's ability to fight all forms of discrimination because it cuts the entire budget. That means race, age, religion, and disability cases will be harmed. I hope the amendment will be defeated.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment passed, 54-44
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: The focus of this amendment is to make sure the subsidy and the safety net in the farm bill go to the people whom it will most help; that is, family farmers. The top 20 business recipients in the country have each gotten more than $3 million under this farm bill. Under the current system, a part-time farmer can have an income as high as $2.5 million from outside sources and still qualify for Federal farm benefits. I do not believe we should be handing out payments to multimillionaires, when these payments should be targeted to family farmers. This amendment places reasonable limits on the incomes of those who receive farm payments: If you are a full-time farmer, you can get the subsidies as long as your income does not exceed $750,000. If you are a part-time farmer or farm investor, you can participate in farm programs if your income does not exceed $250,000.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. CHAMBLISS: I am disheartened that farm program critics continue to try to lead us into believing that there is a vast army receiving benefits to which they are not entitled. Stories about people receiving program benefits continue to make the headlines. But most of the people I know in these situations don't consider themselves wealthy. This debate is not about wealthy landowners and millionaires receiving program benefits. It is really about farmers in general, regardless of their economic situation, receiving program benefits. A few short months ago the debate was about making payments to millionaires and now we are at $750,000 and people want to go even further. This amendment is actually an assault on everyday farmers; but is disguised as an assault on wealthy landowners and millionaires.
Proponents support voting YES because:
The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.
Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 51-48 (3/5ths required)
Proponents support voting YES because:
We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.
We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.
As the federation of America’s unions, the AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million of America’s workers in 60 member unions working in virtually every part of the economy. The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. To accomplish this mission we will build and change the American labor movement.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
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