(Senate - March 28, 1996)

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[Pages S3091-S3100]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will now report the pending 
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 1296) to provide for the administration of 
     certain Presidio properties at minimal cost to the Federal 

  The Senate resumed consideration of the bill.
       Murkowski Modified amendment No. 3564, in the nature of a 
       Dole (for Burns) amendment No. 3571 (to amendment No. 
     3564), to provide for the exchange of certain land and 
     interests in land located in the Lost Creek area and other 
     areas of the Deerlodge National Forest, Montana.
       Dole (for Burns) amendment No. 3572 (to amendment No. 
     3571), in the nature of substitute.
       Kennedy amendment No. 3573, to provide for an increase in 
     the minimum wage rate.
       Kerry amendment No. 3574 (to amendment No. 3573), in the 
     nature of a substitute.
       Dole motion to commit the bill to the Committee on Finance 
     with instructions.
       Dole amendment No. 3653 (to the instructions of the motion 
     to commit), to strike the instructions and insert in lieu 
     thereof ``to report back to April 21, 1996 amendments to 
     reform welfare and Medicaid effective one day after the 
     effective date of the bill.''
       Dole amendment No. 3654 (to amendment No. 3653), in the 
     nature of a substitute.

                           Amendment No. 3573

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There will now be 30 minutes equally divided 
prior to the cloture vote.
  Mr. SIMON addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. SIMON. Mr. President, I yield myself 2\1/2\ minutes.
  We are talking about the minimum wage. We are talking about 12 
million Americans who can benefit, and what that means to 12 million 
Americans, people who are struggling, I do not think I need to spell 
out for most people. But unfortunately, in the U.S. Senate, we have to 
spell it out.
  We ought to spell it out, among other things, in terms of welfare. I 
have heard the phrase ``welfare reform'' on the floor of the Senate 
over and over again this year and last year. Let me tell you, this 
minimum wage bill will do more to help people on welfare and for 
welfare reform than any welfare reform bill that has been before us. 
And it will save money for the Federal Government.
  Once in a while, we can do the humanitarian thing and save money. We 
will save welfare money. We will save money on the earned income tax 
credit if this is adopted. So for people who are interested in saving 
money, moving toward a balanced budget, here is one practical way of 
doing it.
  But let me mention one other observation that I think is important, 
and that is the way we finance campaigns and distort what is taking 
place. Probably before this session of Congress is over, we are going 
to reduce the capital gains tax. Primarily 10,000 people will benefit 
from that. People are going to come out with the numbers, but 60 
percent of the benefits go to 10,000 people. But those 10,000 people 
are contributors on both sides of the aisle, and we listen to them.
  How many of the 12 million people earning the minimum wage are big 
campaign contributors? Virtually none. So their voice is muted in this 
process. We ought to today speak up for 12 million people who are not 
big campaign contributors but need our help.
  Mr. President, I see you are about to gavel me down, so I yield the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time remains?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are 12 minutes 15 seconds remaining on 
your side and 15 minutes remains on the other side.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I yield 3 minutes to the Senator from Minnesota.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, this minimum wage increase is a very 
simple and straightforward proposition. Minimum wage right now is $4.25 
an hour. You can work 52 weeks a year, 40 hours a week and you still do 
not make poverty wages. This is important for working families in 
Minnesota and across the country--almost 200,000 workers in my State--
much less their children.
  We are talking about a 90-cent increase over 2 years--90 cents over 2 
years--to try and respond to the concerns and circumstances of working 
families in the United States of America, working families in 
  Let me put it another way. The U.S. Senate a few years ago voted 
itself 1 year a $30,000 increase in salary. That is almost four times 
the total yearly income of what minimum wage workers make right now in 
our country. The U.S. Senate voted itself a $30,000 increase in 1 year, 
which is almost four times the total annual salary of a minimum wage 
worker and his or her family in this country, and we cannot raise the 
minimum wage for working people?
  I do not consider this to be partisan strategy. I do not consider 
this to be a game. I do not consider this to be tactics. People in the 
United States of America make it a plea that we respond to the issues 
that they care about; that we respond to fundamental economic justice 
questions. That a worker in our country should be able to see his or 
her wage raised from $4.25 an hour to $5.15 an hour over 2 years is a 
matter of fundamental economic justice. It is what I call a Minnesota 
economic justice issue, and I urge my colleagues to vote for cloture.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I yield 3 minutes to my colleague from 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, thank you. I am pleased to join with my 
colleagues in asking the rest of my colleagues to join with all of us 
in voting for this increase in the minimum wage.
  This vote is not a vote on process, it is not a vote on cloture, it 
is not a vote on who controls the Senate, it is not a vote on 
Presidential politics; it is a vote on whether or not people who are 
today working at the minimum wage who are at a record almost 40-year 
low in the purchasing power of that wage are going to get a raise.
  We hear colleagues try to make diversionary arguments: ``Well, this 
is going to lose jobs.''
  We have heard those arguments, Mr. President. We put the minimum wage 
in America into effect in 1938 at 25 cents. Obviously, to get up to the 
$4.25, it has been raised in the meantime.
  In 1989, we raised it here, and 89 U.S. Senators, Democrat and 
Republican alike, joined in raising the minimum wage. We raised it each 
time against the arguments that, ``Oh, this is going to lose us jobs.''
  Finally, in the last 5 years, because that argument keeps being 
raised, a series of studies have been done, study after study. More 
than two dozen of them have shown you do not lose jobs when you raise 
the minimum wage. As long as you obviously raise it to a reasonable 
level, you increase employment.
  The study by Lawrence Katz, of Harvard, and Alan Krueger, of 
Princeton, most recently has showed what happened in New Jersey. New 
Jersey, Mr. President, raised the minimum wage to a level that is well 
above the $5.15 that we are seeking. If you had a comparable level 
today to what they raised it in New Jersey, it would be the equivalent 
of $5.93. We are only asking to raise it to something that is still 13 
percent below the level the minimum wage had in the 1980's. We are not 
asking to raise it to the full level of purchasing power the minimum 
wage has had in the past.
  America was never slowed by having it at that level in the past. We 
have increased employment in this country. In fact, after adjusting for 
inflation, studies would show that if we raised it now to just $5.15 an 
hour, you would still be below the purchasing power level of the 
minimum wage in prior years.

[[Page S3092]]

  The other day we had an employer stand with us talking about the 
minimum wage. He is in the restaurant business. That is one of the 
businesses you most often hear about might be negatively impacted. This 
employer not only pays more than the minimum wage in his restaurant 
business, but he gives everybody in that business full health care--
full health care--more than the minimum wage, and he is doubling his 
business every single year. He keeps the people employed. He keeps the 
people working for him. It is good for his business. It is good for the 
country, Mr. President. This is fair.
  When chief executives are getting paid more, when the stock market 
goes up 34 percent in 1 year, when the productivity of this country 
increases 12 percentage points over the course of the last 5 years, but 
wages only go up 2 percent, it is time to say, give those people 
working at the least point of the economic ladder a raise. I hope we 
will do that in a bipartisan fashion.
  Mr. President, let us not misunderstand this cloture vote today; let 
us not misunderstand what it means about the prevailing political 
agenda of the majority leadership who have consistently supported huge 
tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and millions of dollars in 
corporate give-aways, but will not allow a simple up-or-down vote on 
increasing the minimum wage.
  This cloture vote today is that vote. Some on the other side of the 
aisle would have us believe that this is a vote about schedules, or 
about Presidential politics, or about Democratic attempts to usurp 
control of the Senate when, in fact, it is none of those things. It is 
the vote on whether or not we support an increase in the minimum wage. 
It's a vote about economic justice.
  Mr. President, I have offered, on my part, and we, on this side, have 
all said that we would ``sit down and shut up,'' in exchange for a vote 
anytime between now and June--an honest, up-or-down vote on rasing the 
hourly wage of the poorest American workers. But even that request was 
rejected by the majority leadership. So, this is not about us--on this 
side of the aisle--taking hold of the Senate's agenda, or stalling 
action on the Presidio bill. On the contrary, it is an honest 
insistence that we address this fundamental issue of fairness and 
economic justice.
  The arguments that we are hearing from the other side--that an 
increase in the minimum wage loses jobs, that somehow giving people a 
better chance at survival is a bad thing--simply do not hold up on the 
economic side or on the fairness side.
  In fact, Mr. President, the last time we raised the minimum wage by 
90 cents over 2 years, it was with broad bipartisan support and the 
signature of a Republican President. These arguments never came up 
then, but now, we cannot even get the Republican majority to bring the 
issue up for a vote. It would seem to me that the only thing that has 
significantly changed--besides the inability of 22 million hard working 
Americans to keep up in this economy--is the political imbalance of a 
Republican Party sliding hopelessly to the extreme. Because--based on 
empirical evidence--the need for an increase is clear.
  Study after study show that increasing the minimum wage helps.
  I have brought up example after example in the last few days of young 
single mothers and working families in my State, trying desperately to 
find a job that pays them enough to raise their families with dignity--
that pays enough to provide health care for their children, a decent 
safe place to live--enough to afford daycare and groceries, pay the 
heat and pay the electricity. Mr. President, is that too much to ask 
for people on the job and off the doles?
  The evidence is clear. This increase would not be out of the range of 
increases that have been enacted at the Federal level and in some 
States, and the overwhelming preponderance of evidence--in studies that 
looked at the two-step 90-cent increase in the Federal minimum at the 
turn of the decade, as well as State increases at the level of nearly 
$5.70 an hour in 1996 dollars--is that these increases do not increase 
job loss.
  So any argument here that points to job loss as a reason for voting 
against giving people a raise, is, on its face, absurd. David Card, in 
``Industrial and Labor Relations Review'' in October 1992, studied the 
first 45-cent increase to $4.25 in the Federal minimum wage and found 
there to be no increase in job loss. Now, that study is in 1991 
dollars. The equivalent in 1996 dollars is $4.93--without--without 
causing job loss.
  Another study by Card and Alan Krueger, ``The Effect of the Minimum 
Wage on the Fast Food Industry'' studied the effects of New Jersey 
increasing its minimum wage by 80 cents, from $4.25 an hour to $5.05 an 
hour in 1992--that's $5.69 an hour in 1996 dollars--and they found that 
the increase did not cause job loss.
  And a specific study by David Card entitled, ``Do Minimum Wages 
Reduce Employment: A Case Study of California, 1987-1989'' that looked 
at California's 90-cent increase in the minimum from $3.35 an hour in 
1987 to $4.25 an hour in 1988--that's $5.68 in 1996 dollars--has no 
significant impact on job loss.
  Card concluded: ``Comparisons of grouped and individual State 
data confirm that the rise in the minimum wage increased teenagers' 
wages. There is no evidence of corresponding losses in teenage 

  Another study by Lawrence Katz of Harvard and Alan Krueger of 
Princeton examined an increase on the minimum wage on the fast-food 
industry in Texas and found that the employment effects, if anything, 
were positive.
  Mr. President, let us not be fooled by diversionary arguments that 
muddy the waters. There's no correlation between increases in the 
minimum wage and job loss, and that argument should be put to rest once 
and for all.
  Harvard labor economist Richard Freeman, in the International Journal 
of Manpower, in November 1994, said it best. He said: ``at the level of 
the minimum wage in the 1980s, moderate legislated increases did not 
reduce employment and were, if anything, associated with higher 
employment in some locales.''
  He said, ``Studies based on employment across economic units such as 
States and counties yield more disparate results. Most studies, 
however, reject the notion that the late 1980's and early 1990's 
increases had adverse employment effects, and the studies that find 
adverse effects prior to those increases obtain small elasticities--
meaning small employment effects--which confirm the effectiveness of 
the minimum in redistributing wage income.
  He concluded: ``That moderate increases in the minimum wage 
transferred income to the lower paid without any apparent adverse 
effect on employment at the turn of the 1990's is no mean achievement 
for a policy tool in an era when the real earnings of the less skilled 
fell sharply.''
  Freeman also observed that any net reduction in employment from a 
higher minimum wage that might occur among teenagers would be mitigated 
by the extremely high turnover rates of these workers. So even if a 
higher minimum wage means that it will take some low-wage workers a 
little longer to find jobs, once they do find a job they will benefit 
from the higher wages.
  Do you know what this vote comes down to, Mr. President? It comes 
down to whether or not to put $2,000 more in the pockets of workers. In 
these times, is that a difficult choice? That, $2,000 more for every 
minimum wage worker in local economies. My Republican friends rail 
against welfare, but when it comes to being fair, mark them absent.
  So what are we arguing about. What are my Republican colleagues 
trying to tell us. What straws are they grasping at to create an 
argument about job loss, and teenage employment--or about the imagine 
hobgoblins that would appear if we were to give more money to the 
people who need it most.
  Mr. President, the truth is that raising the minimum wage to $5.15 an 
hour, according to everyone, would make up slightly more than half of 
the ground that was lost to inflation during the 1980's. In fact, after 
adjusting for inflation, the studies show that even if we raised the 
minimum wage to $5.15 an hour it would still be 13 percent below its 
average purchasing power during the 1970's. To have the same purchasing 
power that it had in 1996 it would have to be raised to $5.93 and we 
certainly would not get a vote on $5.93 when we can't get one on $5.15.

[[Page S3093]]

  Mr. President, the purchasing power of the minimum wage is now at its 
second lowest level in four decades. After adjusting for inflation, the 
value of the minimum wage is below its level for every year--except 
1989--going all the way back to 1955.
  To put this in perspective: as real wages for the middle-class have 
been stagnant, the real wages of people at the bottom end have dropped. 
And so the dramatic shift in wealth and obvious wage inequities in 
America are contributing to an extraordinary change in worker morale.
  To put it simply: the dreams and hopes of millions of hard-working 
American families who or on the job and off the dole are at stake here. 
This is about whether or not we understand what people are going 
through in this country.
  Mr. President, we are talking about the working poor. In 1993 more 
than half of the poor, some 22 million people, lived in households with 
someone who went to work everyday--8 hours a day--7 days a week. Some 
4.2 million workers in America paid by the hour in 1993 had earnings at 
or below the minimum wage. This was 6.6 percent of hourly workers. An 
additional 9.2 million hourly workers had earnings just above the 
minimum wage.

  Mr. President, these are not teenagers. These are not minorities. 
They are, to large extent, women. Less than one-in-three, 31 percent, 
were teenagers. About one-in-five, 22 percent, were 20 to 24 years old. 
Nearly half were aged 25 and older.
  And almost 62 percent of them were women.
  Mr. President, who are the real losers in today's economy? Not the 
corporate executives. Not the Republican leadership in the Senate that 
is looking to give them a massive tax cut, and reward these same 
corporations with huge giveaways. No. The ones being left further and 
further behind--are working women.
  They represent 46 percent of the paid work force, but 60 percent of 
those working for the minimum wage. These working women cannot make 
ends meet on $4.25 an hour. A single working woman with two children 
cannot pay for daycare, health care, housing, and food on subpoverty 
wages. For that family of three, the Federal poverty level is $12,500. 
At the minimum wage that family earns only $8,500, $4,000 below the 
poverty level. Times have changed since the 1960's and 1970's when the 
minimum wage was enough to raise families up to the poverty line.
  That imbalance is an unacceptable inequity in America. Yet, 
Republicans in Congress are quibbling over raising the minimum to 
$5.15--even though, since 1979, the minimum wage has lost 25 percent of 
its value--while at the same time they favor a tax cut for the 
wealthiest Americans, and wonder why women who take home less than $132 
a week are forced to choose welfare over work.
  While it may be easy for some to moralize about values and the 
dignity of work while they earn a congressional salary that is 10 times 
the poverty level for a family of three, common sense and common 
decency require that we look at what a single mother with a child and 
$148 a week faces in real terms, everyday. She has to hope that her 
employer provides or subsidizes the cost of daycare. But daycare 
programs at work are rare, particularly for minimum wage earners. 
Nationally only 5 percent of employers pay for or subsidize daycare 
costs for full time employees, and, if a mother is offered a second- or 
third-shift job, daycare is simply not an option.
  The Republicans response is not only to say no to increasing the 
minimum wage, but to cut food stamps, cut school lunches, and cut 
nutritional programs for underprivileged children. Yet, they ask single 
working mothers to work hard, stay off of welfare, pay for daycare, get 
a decent apartment, feed the children, pay for health care, save for 
the future, have a good time, and make ends meet.
  Times have, indeed, changed in the 57 years since Congress first set 
the minimum wage at 25 cents an hour in 1938. But what has not changed 
is our pride and our spirit and our sense of hope. There are millions 
and millions of young, hard-working Americans in the vanguard of a new 
labor movement that is no longer fighting against ruthless employers 
for child labor laws, fair labor practices, health and safety 
standards, decent working conditions, or an 8-hour day. I hope we have 
put those fights behind us because those labor wars were fought over 
the most fundamental rights of people trying to work for a living and 
survive the unregulated power of ruthless employers.
  Now, there is a new labor force struggling against downsizing and 
technology and a global economy. For them, an increase in the minimum 
wage is not too much to ask. The last time we voted to increase it, in 
1989, a Republican President and a Democratic Congress did it together. 
And there were none of these arguments that we are hearing today.
  We worked together then to raise the minimum from $3.35 an hour to 
$4.25 an hour, and I was proud to have voted for it. The House passed 
it by a vote of 382 to 37 with 135 Republicans voting for the increase. 
It passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 8 with 36 Republicans on the 
side of common sense. We can do it again together, if common sense and 
fairness are still bipartisan virtues in Washington.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time remains on both sides?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts, has 5 minutes 
50 seconds remaining on his side. There are still 15 minutes remaining 
on the other side.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I am sorry I was distracted. I think 
the Senator from Massachusetts suggested time run over here.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I was inquiring what the allocation of time was that 
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, as the chairman of the Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee, the committee that brought the Presidio 
legislation to the floor, I want to make some very brief comments at 
this time. I think we are all very much aware that minimum-wage 
legislation has absolutely nothing to do with the parks package that 
included the Presidio, the Utah wilderness, Sterling Forest, and 
numerous other titles. As a matter of fact, we had some 35 titles in 
the bill that affected some 26 States.
  It is no secret that, unfortunately, the parks package coincides with 
the national convention of the AFL-CIO, or at least their Washington 
meeting, and it is unfortunate for this legislation that the timing and 
the announcement by the group that they were going to raise some $35 
million to put into the campaign effort against Republicans who were up 
for reelection. The announcement that they were clearly endorsing the 
Clinton administration, provided Members on the other side the 
opportunity to put the minimum wage, which is one of labor's criteria, 
on something that might move. Unfortunately, the parks package, the 
Presidio, all the 35-some odd titles, are affected.
  The point is, Mr. President, minimum wage legislation has nothing to 
do with this package of bills before the Senate. It has really no 
business being offered or even debated while there is one of the most 
important environmental and conservation legislative packages before 
the 104th Congress. Yet, they have seen fit to take advantage of this 
opportunity. They are well within their rights, but, in the opinion of 
the Senator from Alaska, this is simply politically motivated and it is 
political grandstanding. We all know it, even if the media refuses to 
report it that way.
  It is rather interesting to see the media's comments with regard to 
the bill and the support base concerning the adequacy of wilderness in 
Utah. Not too many people are aware of just how much a million acres of 
wilderness is in size. It is about three times the size of the State of 
Rhode Island. Two million acres is about half the size of the State of 
New Jersey. It is a pretty big hunk of real estate. In any event, in 
this legislation, there was a provision that would have put 2 million 
additional acres into a wilderness classification in Utah.
  There are those who suggest that the legislation prevents the Federal 
Government and the Congress from making a determination that additional 
wilderness might be created. That is absolutely false, Mr. President. 

[[Page S3094]]

who studied the legislation, anyone who looked at the bill, and 
particularly the media, should recognize that Congress can create more 
wilderness any time they see fit, as is evidenced by the creation of 56 
million acres of wilderness in my State of Alaska.
  So, the point I want to make at this time, Mr. President, is, as we 
look at the status of this bill and the package in the context of its 
significance, this package of park-related issues constitutes the most 
significant single environmental package before the Senate in this 
  Those who criticize the package process have a responsibility for two 
  One, ask the question why is the package needed? The answer to that 
question is simple. As these individual bills came before the Energy 
and Natural Resources Committee and were reported out, had their 
hearings, and so forth, a hold was put on virtually every one of these 
50 plus bills now found within the 35 titles of this legislation. The 
Senator from New Jersey who saw fit to hold up the entire collection of 
reported bills to negotiate his particular interests relative to the 
State of New York and the State of New Jersey. That issue was Sterling 
  We have no problem with that, but it did force us to package all of 
the individual bills into a single piece of legislation. Some are now 
suggesting we take it apart. Yet we all know it will not prevail in the 
House if one goes and the others do not.
  Mr. President this process has been going on for a year. Mr. 
President, the other interesting thing is that hundreds of thousands of 
dollars have been expended criticizing this package by unnamed, 
motivated elitists. They do not have to report where the money comes 
from. They simply write full-page ads in some of the Nation's major 
  I think that is a bit irresponsible, Mr. President, they are 
responsible to no one. They are well-financed groups that are single 
  They are not the people of Utah. They are not the legislature of 
Utah. They are not the delegation from Utah. They are an elitist group 
that wants to dictate the terms and conditions under which they can 
recreate in Utah or any other Western State.
  I advise my colleagues that perhaps it is time to put a little 
wilderness in all of our States. We have six States that have no 
wilderness. Is there justification for that?
  Mr. President, in conclusion, I urge my colleagues to show some 
restraint in their enthusiasm to get 5 seconds on the evening news 
tonight. Let us move forward with the most important conservation 
measure to come before this body. We have an opportunity to preserve 
that magnificent Presidio, provide the necessary authority for the 
Bureau of Land Management to set aside 2 million acres of new 
wilderness, and provide critical protection for other areas.
  Mr. President this bill affects almost every single State, let us 
move forward on this important environmental bill and leave this 
specific amendment for the Labor Committee.
  We need to pass the Presidio bill, Mr. President. The minimum wage 
has no business even being on this bill. We all know it.
  I reserve the balance of my time. How much time is remaining?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska has 7 minutes and 32 
seconds remaining.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. I yield the floor.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the issue before us is straightforward. It 
is about whether or not we are truly committed to helping working 
people earn a livable wage.
  Recently, we have begun to hear more concern expressed about jobs and 
wages for the working family in America. Some have newly discovered the 
problems that working families face today: the declining purchasing 
power of their wages, increasing health care costs, and the high cost 
of child care are among those most important. But, for some of us, and 
for the American people, this is not a new issue.
  Unfortunately, too little has been done to address these concerns. 
Today, we have the opportunity to take an important step in the right 
direction, by making sure that those hard-working Americans at the 
bottom of the wage ladder get closer to a fair living wage.
  Many workers in our society work for low wages and few benefits. They 
have virtually no bargaining power in their workplaces and any attempt 
to negotiate for higher wages is futile. For these workers, the 
government has historically provided protection in the form of a 
minimum wage.
  The Rand Corp. a highly respected think tank, recently reported what 
they called a double dose of bad news: economic inequality is growing 
and living standards for millions are getting worse.
  The last time we gave minimum wage workers a raise was 5 years ago 
April 1. The current minimum wage is $4.25. In the last 5 years, 
because of inflation, the buying power of that wage has fallen 50 
cents. The minimum wage is now 29 percent lower in purchasing power 
than it was in 1979--17 years ago.
  With this amendment, the hourly minimum wage would rise to $4.70 this 
year and to $5.15 next year. Close to 12 million American workers would 
take a step forward toward a more equitable living wage.
  Remarkably, there are some in this Congress who not only would not 
increase this wage to a fair level, but would eliminate the wage 
completely. But, I think that they comprise a minority. The last 
increase had overwhelming bipartisan support. On November 8, 1989, the 
Senate passed the increase by a vote of 89 to 8. Supporting that 
increase were the current majority and minority leaders. In the House, 
this bill passed by a vote of 382 to 37. Voting yes were the current 
Speaker of the House and the minority leader. Of course, the bill was 
signed into law by President George Bush.
  The results of Rand's study demonstrate once again that the economic 
squeeze is real. Discounting inflation, the study shows that the median 
income of families fell more than $2,700 over 4 years to about $27,000 
in 1993. People at the lower rungs of the economic ladder have had it 
the worst.
  These figures illustrate that although our economy is growing and 
unemployment is relatively low, working families are confronting 
difficult and uncertain times. This amendment would provide a modest 
boost in earnings for many of these households.
  A higher minimum wage could help reverse the growing wage inequality 
that has occurred since the seventies. A raise in the minimum wage is 
not only good for workers, but it is also good for business.
  The minimum wage is now at a lower level in terms of purchasing power 
than it has been in three or four decades. That means minimum wage 
workers buy less. More money in the pockets of workers means more 
dollars circulating in the local economy.
  While some claim a moderate increase in the minimum wage will cost 
jobs, leading economists find little evidence of loss of employment. 
Instead, they find that a ripple effect could expand the impact beyond 
the immediate minimum wage workforce. Some workers in low-wage jobs who 
currently earn more than the minimum wage may see an increase in their 
earnings as minimum wages rise.
  As the richest nation on Earth, our minimum wage should be a living 
wage, and it is not. When a father or mother works full-time, 40 hours 
a week, year-round, they should be able to lift their family out of 
poverty. Sadly, even the proposed $5.15 an hour will not do that. But, 
our proposal makes an important stride toward assuring that work is 
more profitable than welfare.
  A minimum wage hike rewards work and lessens the burden of 
dependency. The current minimum wage is actually about $2 an hour less 
than what a family of four needs to live above the poverty line. At 
$4.25 an hour, you earn $680 a month, gross. That's $8,160 per year. 
The poverty line for a family of four is $15,600 per year.
  Adults who support their families would be the prime beneficiaries of 
our proposal to raise the minimum wage. Nearly two-thirds of minimum 
wage earners are adults and more than one-third are the sole 
breadwinners. Nearly 60 percent of the full-time minimum wage earners 
are women. Often these are women bringing home the family's only 
  We must puncture the myth that a minimum wage hike would only help 
teens holding down part-time jobs after school. An increase in the 
minimum wage would improve the standard of

[[Page S3095]]

living for many working Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, trying 
to get a foothold on the American dream. In reality, almost half of 
minimum wage earners work full-time while only one-fifth work less than 
half time. Only a quarter are teenagers.
  In 32 States, including Michigan, over 10 percent of the workforce 
would benefit directly from an increase in the minimum wage. Workers 
who now earn less than $5.15 per hour stand to gain immediately. An 
analysis by the Economic Policy Institute finds 10.5 percent of all 
Michigan voters, more than 420,000 workers, are in this group.
  Mr. President, the bottom line is work should pay, and the current 
minimum wage is not enough to live on. The minimum wage is a floor 
beneath which no one should fall. But we should make sure that standing 
on that floor, a person can reach the table. A full-time minimum wage 
job should provide a minimum standard of living in addition to giving 
workers the dignity that comes with a paycheck. Hard-working Americans 
deserve a fair deal.
  Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. President, I take this opportunity today to clarify 
my position on the pending Kennedy amendment to increase the minimum 
wage. As with any debate that takes place in this Chamber, we debate 
both the merits of a particular legislative initiative as well as, and 
equally important, the procedures and timing of bringing a legislative 
initiative to the floor for debate.
  Mr. President, last year during debate on S. 1357, the Balanced 
Budget Act adopted by this Congress, I supported a sense-of-the-Senate 
resolution to debate and vote on the merits of increasing the minimum 
wage. While I have been supportive of past minimum wage increases, I 
don't believe H.R. 1296, the Presidio Act, the underlying bill 
currently being considered, provides a proper vehicle to increase the 
current minimum wage. This bill, and the fact that the pending 
amendment prevents further consideration of this bill, is not conducive 
to properly address some of its more contentious issues regarding a 
minimum wage increase.
  For example, just as minimum wage opponents may believe the highest 
proportion of low-wage workers to be young people, proponents of a 
higher minimum wage often portray the minimum wage work force as 
largely adult and, therefore, much more in need of an increase. 
However, we must recognize that this debate hinges upon how one defines 
youth. If, for example, one defines a youth as between 16 and 19 years 
of age, then about 36 percent of workers, paid hourly at the minimum 
wage, are youths and 64 percent adults. However, if one adopts a 
definition of youth as one between 16 and 24 years of age, then about 
60 percent of the work force at the Federal minimum wage are youths and 
only 40 percent are adults. Indeed, this discrepancy alone warrants 
further debate.
  Mr. President, this brings me to the second, and equally important 
issue, that of the procedure and timing of this discussion. I believe 
this debate on the minimum wage deserves to be debated as a vehicle 
unto itself, and not as a proposal to be attached to each and every 
legislative initiative that comes up on the floor in this Chamber, in 
this case H.R. 1296, the Presidio legislation.
  The procedure of appending the minimum wage initiative to H.R. 1296, 
in my view Mr. President, is to attach a nongermane element to a bill 
that deserves to be debated on its own merits. In this case, it is a 
bill that has several elements that are important to my State of 
  As a small business owner and former minimum wage laborer, I can 
truly understand where both sides of this debate are coming from. While 
a compromise increase of 45 cents over 2 years is something I would 
consider, Congress should approach this issue with full deliberation; 
over 80 million workers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act's 
minimum wage, and its impacts would undoubtedly be far reaching.
  Therefore, I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue 
in the future, and I am hopeful a more suitable legislative vehicle 
will be found in which we can properly address the issue of raising the 
Federal minimum wage.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of this 
amendment on behalf of American workers and American families.
  Here in Washington, and on the campaign trail we hear a lot of talk 
about corporate downsizing, stagnant wages, and worker anxiety. 
Throughout this country, American workers and their families are 
frustrated and anxious of what the future might bring.
  And, if we're going to do more than pay lip service to these issues, 
if we're going to be serious about helping those Americans that work 
hard and play by the rules then this amendment should pass by a 
unanimous vote.
  Today, with this measure we have a genuine opportunity, on behalf of 
millions of American workers, to turn the minimum wage into a true 
living wage.
  Today, the real value of the minimum wage is at its second lowest 
point in 40 years--$4.25 an hour.
  Now, I want every person in this room to consider living on $4.25 a 
hour; or, living on $36 a day. That's an annual income of $8,500 a 
year--well below the poverty level for a family of three, which is 
  How can any American expect to bring themselves out of poverty or 
pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they're expected to raise a 
family on $8,500 a year?
  Over the past year I've heard a lot of talk from the other side of 
the aisle about encouraging responsibility and a strong work ethic 
among our Nation's welfare recipients. I think it's something we can 
all agree upon.
  But, it is utter hypocrisy to talk about encouraging self-sufficiency 
and responsibility while we ask our Nation's poorest citizens to live 
on a meager wage of $36 a day.
  Let us be clear, the people affected by the minimum wage aren't high-
school kids flipping hamburgers at McDonald's. I can see why people 
would like to believe that: it certainly makes it easier to oppose this 
  We're talking about child care workers, waiters and waitresses, 
telemarketers, custodians, salesclerks, and the list goes on and on.

  The fact is, more than 73 percent of those affected by the minimum 
wage are adults. More than 47 percent are full-time workers. Four in 
ten are the sole earner for their families and nearly one in five 
currently lives in poverty.
  What's more, nearly 60 percent of minimum wage workers are women, 
more than three-quarters of whom are adults. That's 5.2 million adult 
women, many of whom are also busy raising children who would be 
directly affected if we pass this amendment.
  These figures represent millions of American workers who are just 
able to keep their heads above water, who are barely subsisting at 
three-fourths the level of poverty.
  For them this amendment isn't about politics or partisan games--this 
is about economic survival.
  Now, my colleagues from across the aisle often use the argument that 
raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. But study after study has 
shown that this is a fallacious argument.
  Studies done after the minimum wage was raised in 1990 demonstrate 
that not only did it have a negligible effect on job loss, but in some 
locales it actually brought higher employment.
  The fact is, a higher minimum wage is not only a stronger incentive 
to work, but it reduces turnover, increases productivity, and lowers 
cost for retraining and recruiting.
  And, the fact is we're not even talking about an enormous increase--
only 90 cents an hour. And, while 90 cents may not seem like a lot to 
most people, it represents $1,800 in potential income for American 
  For a family struggling to make ends meet, a simple 90-cent-an-hour 
increase in the minimum wage would pay for 7 months of groceries, or 1 
year of health care costs, or more than a year's tuition at a 2-year 
  And if you don't believe me, listen to the experts. According to a 
recent study by economists William Spriggs and John Schmitt: ``The 
overwhelming weight of recent evidence supports the view that low-wage 
workers will benefit overwhelmingly from a higher Federal minimum 
  And that's the choice we have before us today: To raise the minimum 
wage and make a real difference in the lives of close to 12 million 
American workers.

[[Page S3096]]

  If we want to be serious about moving welfare recipients to work, if 
we want to calm the fears of anxious workers, if we want to provide 
economic opportunity for every American we have a solemn commitment to 
pass this amendment and raise the minimum wage for American workers.
  In the past, this body has, in a bipartisan manner, overwhelmingly 
supported increasing the minimum wage. The last time we raised it in 
1989, the Senate voted 89 to 8.
  Indeed, Senator Dole, who I often hear talking about the importance 
of working families on the campaign trail, was a key supporter of 
raising the minimum wage in 1989.
  Well, I hope Senator Dole and all my colleagues continue the 
bipartisan tradition of supporting the minimum wage and join me in 
backing this critically important amendment for American workers.
  Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Kennedy amendment 
to raise the minimum wage.
  This amendment presents the Senate with a unique opportunity to 
address one of the most pressing anxieties for America's lower and 
middle-class workers--stagnant wages. By passing this amendment, 
Congress can take a small step to help reverse the shrinking purchasing 
power and suppressed living standards of America's lowest paid workers.
  The amendment before us would allow some of the hardest working 
American's to make a better life for themselves and their families. It 
would increase the minimum wage from the current level of $4.25 to 
$5.15 over 2 years. Granting a 90 cent wage increase over 2 year's will 
not solve the economic problems of the working class nor will it break 
the bank; but it will help working families.
  Mr. President, over 12 million workers would directly benefit from an 
increase in the minimum wage--over 210,000 of those workers live in 
  Contrary to assertions of minimum wage opponents, this amendment 
would not wreak havoc on job availability. In fact, a large group of 
prominent economists, including three Nobel prize winners, recently 
endorsed a minimum wage increase. These economists assert that the 
moderate Federal minimum wage increase will not significantly 
jeopardize employment opportunities. The Kennedy amendment represents 
such a moderate increase.
  Mr. President, the plight of the American worker has received more 
attention in speeches during recent political primaries than through 
the policy decisions of the 104th Congress. During the first session of 
the 104th Congress, we have seen proposals to cut education, job 
training, and workplace safety programs. Perhaps most inexcusable are 
the severe cuts proposed in the earned income tax credit for low paid 
working Americans. These are the same workers who are held down by the 
artificially low minimum wage.
  Mr. President, the economy appears healthy, unemployment is down and 
millions of jobs have been created over the past 3 years. Yet the 
average American worker remains uneasy. Real wages have become stagnant 
and many Americans have discovered that their standard of living has 
decreased over the years.
  It has been almost 5 years since the minimum wage has been increased. 
Studies indicate that after the minimum wage was increased in 1991, the 
real value of the wage has fallen by nearly 50 cents. Furthermore, the 
real value of the minimum wage is 29 percent lower than it was in 1979. 
If this trend continues, the value of the minimum wage will plummet to 
a 40-year low by 1997.
  The importance of increasing the minimum wage looms even larger today 
as Congress attempts to balance the budget and cut spending for 
welfare, worker education and training, the earned income tax credit, 
child care and other resources that families use to stay afloat 
economically. To deny America's lowest paid workers a sustaining wage 
during a time of substantial budget cuts simply represents misguided 
priorities. This is precisely the time when we need to reward the 
people who work. If we are going to cut funding for education and 
training, we must provide individuals with the economic tools necessary 
to get ahead.
  The last minimum wage increase under President Bush enjoyed broad 
bipartisan support. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to undertake a 
similar bipartisan effort today and demonstrate their commitment to 
working families by restoring the fair value of the minimum wage. It is 
time for Congress to remove this issue from Presidential politics and 
take real legislative action to address the economic problems facing 
the American worker.
  Raising the minimum wage will not solve all of the problems of low-
wage workers, but it will go far in demonstrating that Congress can act 
to help those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. I urge my 
colleagues to vote for cloture and pass the minimum wage increase.
  Ms. MOSELEY-BRAUN. Mr. President, I support raising the minimum wage 
over the next 2 years, from its current $4.25 per hour to $5.15 per 
hour, because I believe in the American dream and I believe in family 
  If a person works hard and diligently, he or she should succeed. This 
is a deeply held belief in this country and one which I share--this is 
the American dream. And if a person works hard and diligently, he or 
she should be able to care for family--this is family values.
  Today, 12 million Americans earn the minimum wage. In my State alone, 
over 10 percent of the workforce earns the minimum wage--545,647 
Illinoisans earn $4.25 an hour. This means that an Illinoisan, working 
40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earns only $8,840.
  These workers are not just young people working at their first job--
although young people often contribute to their family's income. The 
majority of the people earning minimum wage--73 percent--are adults. 
Many of these are parents raising families on under $9,000 a year--
still eligible for food stamps. It is a travesty that a mother or 
father working full-time-- 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year--cannot 
support a family.
  As we continue to purge the welfare roles of children and their 
mothers, we should remember that close to 60 percent of those earning 
minimum wage are women. These are women who are taking responsibility 
for themselves and their children. These are women who are trying to 
make it on their own. These are women who go to work every single day. 
And still, minimum wage does not provide them with a living wage for 
their family.
  This legislation would not overcompensate workers. It has been almost 
5 years since the minimum wage was last increased. Prices have 
increased over the last 5 years, as I'm sure anybody who has bought a 
carton of milk or a dozen eggs lately can tell you.
  In this country, we increasingly face a declining standard of living 
for working people. In the 1980's, 80 percent of Americans did not 
improve their standard of living. While the average wage increased 67 
percent, the average price of a home increased by 100 percent, the 
average price of a car increased 125 percent, and the cost of a year in 
college increased by 130 percent. And the minimum wage increased by 
only 23 percent.
  If a 90-cent increase in minimum wage had been part of the Contract 
With America, by today, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage 
would have earned an additional $2,000. That money could pay more than 
7 months of groceries, rent or mortgage for 4 months, a full year of 
health care costs, or 9 months of utility bills. The money would make a 
world of difference to a family--and it is money that the employee 
  And paying a living wage does not mean that jobs will be lost as 
opponents of increasing the minimum wage claim. Last year a group of 
respected economists, including three Nobel Prize winners, concluded 
that an increase in the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour will have 
positive effects on the labor market, workers, and the economy.
  Workers are our greatest resource. The American worker is what has 
made this country great. We should recognize the contributions of our 
workers and reward those who work long and hard to earn a living. And 
we must make certain that parents working full-time can support their 
families. If a parent working full-time cannot keep a family above 
poverty, a child will learn about the American nightmare, not the 
American dream.
  Let us today show that America rewards work, that Americans who try

[[Page S3097]]

hard can succeed, that America's families are important to us. A living 
minimum wage is a sign of a just and decent society. I urge my 
colleagues to vote for cloture and for this modest increase in the 
minimum wage.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, this one is real simple. If you raise the 
minimum wage, you provide working people with a higher salary and a 
better standard of living. And so I come here in very strong support 
for the minority leader's effort to give working people a raise by 
increasing the minimum wage.

                             BUTTE SAFEWAY

  Over the years, Butte, MT, has seen more than its share of hard 
times. When the mines closed, a lot of people said it was curtains for 
Butte. But those people had obviously not spent much time in Butte.
  Through a lot of hard work, resourcefulness, and community spirit, 
the folks in Butte fought to rebuild their economy. And they did it. 
The economic success story that is Butte today is a great example of 
what can happen when people come together, play by the rules, and work 
  A few weeks ago, I was in Butte. I spent some time at the Safeway 
store just listening to people. And I was struck by what a young woman 
named Rhonda had to say. She was in her early 20's; friendly, 
energetic, and bright. And like most people that age, she was also 
anxious to build a better future for herself. But she told me, ``Max, I 
am having a hard time making ends meet on minimum wage. I work hard, 
but it's just not enough.''
  A whole lot of Montanans feel just the same. They see their wages 
increasing too slowly to keep up with the cost of living. They find it 
harder and harder to save money to send their children to college.
  In fact, according to a recent study, over 52,000 Montana workers--
more than the entire population of Lewis and Clark County, Montana's 
sixth largest county--would find it a little easier to make ends meet 
if we raised the minimum wage to just $5.15 per hour.

                      FALLING WAGES, RISING COSTS

  The experts confirm this. A recent Paine-Webber analysis shows that 
real wages in America have declined from $7.55 per hour in 1990 to 
$7.40 in 1995.
  We're getting the worst of it in Montana. Our wage growth has been 
slower than virtually any other State in the Nation. Let me point to a 
few startling Montana statistics to prove my point:
  The purchasing power of the average Montana family has actually 
fallen by $700 over the last 10 years;
  In 1980, Montana's average personal income ranked 33 in the Nation. 
But today we've slipped to 41;
  And the cost of living continues to climb--particularly when it comes 
to housing costs. Just 5 years ago, the average price of a Montana home 
was about $48,000. But today that figure has increased by 30 percent to 

                     NEED THE RIGHT KIND OF CHANGES

  The people who suffer most from this wage stagnation are the middle 
class--the backbone of America. People who work hard. Pay taxes. 
Volunteer in their communities. When they suffer, the whole country 
suffers. Because if our middle class cannot afford homes, or cars, or 
college educations for the children--ultimately American businesses and 
America itself will be weaker.
  Congress is not going to solve these problems all by itself. But 
there are some things Congress can do to help.
  We need to cut the tax burden on working families. Not by giving new 
tax breaks to corporations that are already profitable, but by giving a 
tax deduction for college expenses, so more families can afford college 
and more children can qualify for high-paying jobs in demanding fields.
  We need to make sure family businesses can stay in the family, by 
reducing the estate and gift tax substantially.
  We need to balance the budget, in the right way. Not by threatening 
retirement and health security. Not by threatening the next 
generation's prosperity by cutting college loans and vocational 
education. But by a more serious effort to attack fraud and abuse in 
Government health care programs, by sticking to the Defense 
Department's recommendations on security rather than tacking on pork 
programs, and by resisting the temptation to create new loopholes and 
deductions for profitable companies.

                         RECORD OF THE CONGRESS

  So these are the people Congress is here to help. And I think it's 
fair to say that at the beginning of 1995, a lot of Montanans felt this 
Congress might help. There was a lot of new blood and some new ideas, 
and people had some high hopes.

  But those hopes have vanished in the mess of bumbling revolutionary 
experiments and Government shutdowns which the leadership in the House 
has created. Rather than make people a little more prosperous and 
secure, the Congress seems to have deliberately done just the opposite.
  When Speaker Gingrich, for example, was angry about his seating 
assignment on Air Force One a few months back, he shut down Yellowstone 
and Glacier National Park, along with most of the rest of the 
Government, to take revenge. That drove small businesses in the gateway 
communities to the edge of bankruptcy. And it threatened to put Park 
Service employees and Government research scientists on welfare.

                            A SECOND CHANCE

  So the leadership in this 104th Congress has let our State down 
pretty badly. All too often, rather than do something good and positive 
for the people, it has done something irrational and destructive.
  But we are here today to offer the folks in charge a second chance.
  By adopting this amendment, we will give hard-working people a raise. 
Plain and simple. A 90-cent-an-hour raise in the minimum wage, from 
$4.25 an hour to $5.15 an hour. That is something concrete for people 
like Rhonda. People who are working hard and finding they can't make 
  For a young woman working 40 hours a week at the minimum wage, this 
amendment means a raise of 90 cents per hour. That means almost $2,000 
more in the pocket every year. And it means a bump along the wage scale 
that will give some help to Rhonda's co-workers with a bit more 
seniority--the men and women struggling to provide for their families 
on $6 or $7 an hour.


  I know some around here don't like the idea. But if they'll step back 
and look again, they'll find that the opposition to a minimum wage 
increase boils down to one idea: higher wages are bad for the country.
  I simply can't accept that. America cannot prosper by keeping a lid 
on the prosperity of most of our families. That doesn't make sense.
  So by putting party ideology aside, the majority here can rebuild 
some of the credit it has squandered in the past year and a half. It 
can do some good for honest, deserving working people like Rhonda. And 
that is what we ought to do.
  This minimum wage increase is a chance for Congress to show some 
common sense. Some independence from elitist supply-side ideologs. The 
courage to do what we all know is right.
  Let's agree to this amendment and give America a raise.
  Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I yield myself 4 minutes.
  Mr. President, I urge the Senate to vote for cloture and end this 
unconscionable Republican filibuster against the minimum wage. Senate 
Dole is leading this filibuster. He is the one who can end it. It is 
his decision.
  Thumbs up, and 13 million wage earners get their first pay raise in 5 
years. Thumbs down, and 13 million minimum wage workers go on living in 
poverty, because the minimum wage is not a living wage. A hard day's 
work deserves a fair day's pay. No one who works for a living should 
have to live in poverty.
  Senator Dole locks up the nomination, and the first thing he does is 
lock out the 13 million Americans who are only asking for the fair 
minimum wage they deserve. Stock prices are going right up through the 
roof, and the minimum wage is falling through the basement. That is not 
fair. It is not acceptable.
  Speaker Gingrich and Senator Dole make a remarkable couple. It is 
like Bonnie and Clyde writing the Republican platform. Newt Gingrich 
wants to repeal the ban on assault weapons,

[[Page S3098]]

and Bob Dole wants to block any increases in the minimum wage. 
Democrats do not share those appalling priorities and neither do the 
vast majority of the American people.
  Who are the minimum wage workers? The vast majority are not 
teenagers. More than two-thirds are adults, 59 percent are women. 
Minimum wage workers are nurses aides caring for patients, child-care 
workers caring for young children, garment workers, retail clerks, 
janitors cleaning office buildings.
  Last year, we heard the story of Tonya Outlaw. She had been teaching 
at a child care center in Windsor, NC, for 4 years making the minimum 
wage. She left a high-paying job because she could not afford the child 
care for her own two daughters. Earning only $4.25 an hour, she cannot 
afford medicine for her family. She lives with her uncle and sister. 
Every bill is a struggle. Why are the Republicans filibustering against 
giving the raise that she deserves?
  David Dow was 23 years old when I met him last year working for a 
pizza chain, in Southfork, PA, working for the minimum wage, struggling 
to support his 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. His wife works 
for telemarketing, just above the minimum wage. They have no health 
insurance, are repaying college loans, and cannot afford child care. 
They work different shifts and see each other for an hour or two a day, 
except on weekends.
  This is America in 1996. Who are the Republicans kidding? David Dow 
needs the pay raise the Republicans are filibustering.
  The question is, whose side are you on? You cannot have it both ways. 
We cannot be for working Americans and their families and against 
making the minimum wage a decent wage. You cannot be concerned about 
declining living standards for American families and the widening 
income gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, and then 
deny a fair increase in the minimum wage.
  Congress has not voted to raise the minimum wage in 5 years. At least 
three times since that last increase, the Senate has given themselves a 
pay increase. We take care of the privileged. Surely it is time to take 
care of those at bottom of the economic ladder.
  It is shocking that the longstanding bipartisan support for raising 
the minimum wage has disappeared. The last vote in the Senate in 1989 
was 89-8 in favor of a 90-cent increase in the minimum wage.
  The economy is healthier in 1996 than it was in 1989. Inflation and 
unemployment are lower. Corporate profits and the stock market are at 
record highs.
  Bob Dole and all but a handful of Republican Senators were in the 
mainstream in 1989 and voted to make the minimum wage a fair wage. The 
question now is, why have they changed?
  I withhold the balance of the time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Frist). The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, how much time do we have remaining on 
this side?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. I will yield my remaining time to the Senator from 
Oklahoma after I make a few remarks.
  Mr. President, I think it is interesting to reflect that the attack 
now is being made on the majority leader as a consequence of the fact 
that he is the designee, Republican nominee for President.
  The comment has been made that there is a filibuster going on. I do 
not know that there is a filibuster going on. We voted yesterday on 
cloture. We will vote today on cloture, but, instead, the attack is on 
the majority leader. I resent that.
  Mr. President, the amendment today being offered would raise the 
minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15, a 20-percent increase over 2 years. 
Now, our Democratic friends suggest that this would be very meritorious 
and everybody would be a winner. They are accommodating, obviously, the 
interests of the unions. Of course, those members are virtually all in 
the unions, receiving a wage much higher than the minimum wage. But 
look at what they are not addressing and the consequences associated 
with that.
  That is why I oppose the amendment, because of the danger that it is 
going to foreclose job opportunities precisely for those who we want to 
help. They do not mention that. Increasing the minimum wage will raise 
the lower rung of the economic ladder and leave behind those just 
trying to get a foothold with their first job. They will not be hired 
and we all know it.
  The amendment, though well-intentioned, will cause a loss of entry-
level jobs. It will limit job opportunities for low-skilled workers. 
This will not help raise the standard of living for the poor. They do 
not even want to address that in the discussion.
  The U.S. Senate cannot repeal the law of supply and demand. Common 
sense tells us we cannot make it more expensive to hire new workers and 
then expect employers to hire the same number of workers. Experience 
has shown when we raise the minimum wage, employers hire fewer workers 
and substitute new machinery and new technology in place of those 
workers. That is why we pump our own gas today. That is why we pay with 
a credit card rather than have a gas attendant do the job, wash our 
windows. It is why we bus our own trays in the fast food restaurants.
  Make no mistake about it, Mr. President, this is not a win-win-win. 
As a consequence, the appropriateness of putting this on the parks 
bill, the most significant environmental measure to come before this 
body, is simply unconscionable. It is political opportunism at its 
worst. The fact that it is directed at the majority leader is 
absolutely uncalled for.
  I yield the balance of my time to the Senator from Oklahoma.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. NICKLES. How much time is remaining?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Four minutes.
  Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, I compliment my friend and colleague from 
Alaska, Senator Murkowski, for, one, his statement, but also for maybe 
one of the most important things he said: This amendment has nothing to 
do with the national parks. It does not belong on this bill.
  You might say, well, why is it on this bill? Why was it offered by my 
friend and colleague from Massachusetts to put on this bill? I will 
tell you. In my opinion, it is all about politics. It is not about 
increasing minimum wage. If my friends on the other side of the aisle 
wanted to increase the minimum wage, they controlled this body in 1993, 
in 1994. They controlled the White House. They could have done it at 
that time. They had that right. They had the votes. The majority leader 
could have called it up any time. They did not do it.
  Why did they do it now? Well, Presidential politics. Plus, I noticed 
an article in the paper that says the AFL-CIO endorses Clinton and 
approves a $35 million political program. They want to run a lot of 
independent expenditures, all against Republicans. It is all about 
politics. It does not belong on this bill. We should reject this 
  What is the substance of the amendment? The substance of the 
amendment is, it says if you make less than $5.15 an hour, you should 
not have a job. Not only should you not have a job, you cannot have a 
job. An increase in the minimum wage says it is against the Federal law 
for you to have a job if you make less than $5.15. You cannot have a 

  I do not care if my friends from the States of Massachusetts, New 
York, or North Dakota want to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour 
in their States; let them do it. I do not think they should do it in my 
State because they are going to put some people out of work. I heard 
them say that it has no adverse economic impact and maybe it will 
increase jobs. If that is the case, let us increase minimum wage to $10 
an hour. I do not want everybody to make just $5 an hour; I want 
everybody to make more than $5 an hour. Why not $10 or $20 an hour? If 
we can repeal the law of economics, if it makes no difference 
whatsoever economically, let us make it more because I want people to 
make a lot more money. I am not against people getting a raise. I want 
  But I do not want to raise the minimum wage and say it is against the 
law for you to have a job if the best thing

[[Page S3099]]

you can get is $4.50 or $4.75. I have kids that make that amount of 
money. We are going to pass a law that says they cannot have a job if 
it does not pay $5.15. If the infinite wisdom of Washington, DC, says, 
``If you do not have a job that pays at least $5.15 an hour, you should 
not have a job,'' and that person cannot get a job and they are idle, 
then what are they doing? A lot of times they end up involved in crime 
or involved in mischief. That is ridiculous. And they do not learn a 
trade or a new skill.
  I worked for minimum wage. I do not make any bones about it. I worked 
for minimum wage after my wife and I were married, 27\1/2\ years ago. 
We made $1.60 an hour. I needed more, but it was enough. I quit that 
job and started my own janitor service. I learned a trade, and I hired 
a lot of people, and they all made more than minimum wage. Why in the 
world should we set an arbitrary level, a higher level, and say, ``If 
you do not meet this level, you cannot have a job? Uncle Sam says we 
would rather have you be idle if you cannot meet at least this 
standard.'' I think that is ridiculous.
  I think the Senator's amendment is wrong in its substance. It is 
nothing but a political act of appeasement or trying to make organized 
labor leaders happy. Thank you very much for your $35 million. You are 
going to get a great program. We are going to try to embarrass Bob Dole 
and see if we cannot come up with a great program to thank you for your 
money. I think that is blatant political abuse and should be rejected. 
I hope it is rejected.
  My colleagues on the other side know this amendment is not going to 
become law. They hope to score some political points, and I hope they 
will not be successful.
  Mr. KENNEDY addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time remains?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 1 minute 12 seconds.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I yield myself 1 minute 12 seconds.
  Bob Dole, March 28, 1974:

       I am pleased to support the conference report on the 
     minimum wage bill. A living wage for a fair day's work is a 
     hallmark of the American economic philosophy.

  May 17, 1989, Bob Dole on the floor of the Senate:

       I have said, as a Republican, I am not going to stand here 
     and say you can live on $3.25 an hour, or $4.55 an hour.

  Bob Dole on the Senate floor, April 11, 1989:

       To be sure, I am all for helping the working poor. I have 
     spent most of my public life supporting causes on behalf of 
     the working poor, and no one would deny that the working poor 
     are the ones who most deserve a wage increase.

  Mr. President, where is that Bob Dole? Where is that Bob Dole? I hear 
from my colleagues that they resent the fact that this is being offered 
on this particular bill. I want to tell you that it does not make a 
difference whether any Senator resents it in here. The people who 
resent us not doing this have a right to, and they are the men and 
women not getting it. They are the ones who ought to feel the 
resentment by our failure to provide a decent wage, a livable wage, for 
working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year.

  Mr. DASCHLE addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority leader is recognized.
  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I will use my leader time.
  Mr. President, I think it would be very unfortunate if someone cast 
this as anything other than what it is--unless we act soon, we will be 
at the lowest point in terms of purchasing power that we have been in 
our Nation's history when it comes to the minimum wage. That is a fact.
  This is not an effort to encumber an environmental bill, as troubling 
as one aspect of that bill is. It has nothing to do with Presidential 
politics, it has nothing to do with labor unions. It has everything to 
do with the fact that the economic foundation for working families in 
this country has been, is now, and will continue to be the minimum 
wage. That is a fact. A fair minimum wage is an economic foundation for 
working families, period.
  Seventy-three percent of those who would benefit from this minimum 
wage increase are adults. Almost three out of every four people; not 
just those getting started in life, or just out of high school or 
college. They are people struggling to make ends meet with a family. 
And 40 percent of those on minimum wage today are the sole 
  Let us put an end to the stereotype of the teenager flipping 
hamburgers so he can buy a car, or somehow get started right out of 
school. The face of a typical minimum wage worker is a woman working 
full time or part time to support her family, a single mother working 
40 hours a week, and concluding at the end of every week or month when 
she tries to pay the bills that she is still living in poverty. A 
minimum wage increase could help, at long last, after 5 years, pull her 
at least a little bit out of the depths of concern that she has about 
the economic and financial problems she is facing. A 90-cent increase, 
which is what this bill would do, provides $1,800 more in a year's 
time. And 45 cents does not sound like a whole lot, but when you 
combine 45 cents this year and next, over a period of time you find 
that it buys more than 7 months worth of groceries, 1 year of health 
care, including insurance premiums, prescription drugs, and other out-
of-pocket costs.
  This increase will buy 4 months rent or mortgage payments. This 
increase pays 9 months of utility bills. So do not let anybody mislead 
you. This is not just a minuscule amount for a lot of people. This is 
whether people can eat or have the ability to pay their bills. That is 
what we are talking about here.
  The increase in the minimum wage is obviously just a piece of it. The 
earned-income tax credit is also a very important part. We have faced, 
throughout this last 14 months, efforts by many of our Republican 
colleagues to cut the earned-income tax credit. They tell us that they 
ought to go out and find a job, they do not need the EITC, they ought 
to rely on the marketplace to find, somehow, an increase in wages 
there. If we are going to rely upon the marketplace, we better have a 
living wage to do that. The minimum wage can only be the beginning for 
many of these working families.
  Republicans often tell us they want to move people off welfare and on 
to work, and we share that view, that desire, that goal. What do you 
tell people who work 40 hours a week and are still below the legal 
level of poverty in this country? How is that an encouragement to tell 
people to get off welfare? Restoring the minimum wage to a working wage 
is one of the best ways you get people off of welfare.
  Five years, Mr. President, is a long time. In that 5 years, we have 
had increases in our wages. Just about every CEO in this country has 
seen dramatic increases in their wages. I do not deny them that. In 
many cases, they truly deserve it. On April 1, we will see the fifth 
anniversary of the last increase in the minimum wage. We have seen a 
20-year period of wage stagnation, and the gap between the richest and 
poorest in this country has never been wider. The stratification in 
this country has to be something this Senate addresses.
  A higher minimum wage is the least we can do to begin dealing 
effectively with that stratification. The real value of the minimum 
wage has fallen by nearly 50 cents since 1991, and by 29 percent since 
1979. If we do not act right now, the real value will be at a 40-year 
low by January 1997.
  This is not just a matter affecting a few people, Mr. President; 12 
million working people will benefit directly by what we are going to 
decide this afternoon. In 32 States, it is over 10 percent of the work 
force. In study after study, in spite of all the denials you hear from 
our Republican friends--nearly two dozen in all, not one or two--have 
shown that a moderate increase in the minimum wage can be achieved 
without costing jobs. That is not our assertion. That is not something 
we just postulate about. This is something that actually has been 
examined in case after case after case, and in every single case it has 
been reported that you can raise the minimum wage at a moderate level 
and not cost jobs.
  In fact, we see a positive effect on both business and workers. A 
higher minimum wage reduces turnover, raises productivity, and lowers 
recruitment and training costs. When workers are paid better, when they 
get a better living wage, then there is more demand for the products 
they make.

[[Page S3100]]

  There are all kinds of advantages in doing this in a proper way. We 
know that. Apparently, a lot of Republican colleagues share that view 
because the last time we voted in 1989, 89 Senators supported the 
increase in the minimum wage. A Republican President signed it into law 
indicating that he endorsed the principle of a guaranteed and fair 
minimum wage.
  The time has come to show that same bipartisanship and to do it 
again. A recent Gallup poll said that 77 percent of the American people 
think that we ought to do it again. Sixty-three percent of Republicans 
think that we ought to do it again.
  This is not a ``new mandate.'' This is not something that we have 
just dreamed up. This is something we have been doing for decades and 
decades with the realization you have to start somewhere. The U.S. 
Conference of Mayors just sent us all a letter that makes it very clear 
that they endorse an increase in the minimum wage. These are government 
leaders at the most local level telling us that they see what this 
does; they know that if we get people off welfare, they can reduce the 
cost of government. The way to do it is with a minimum wage that works.
  So, Mr. President, there are those who say we are somehow encumbering 
the process. So be it. If there is no other way to ensure that we get a 
vote on the minimum wage, we have no other choice but to do it this 
  We have all agreed that we will hold off on offering this as an 
amendment to any other piece of legislation if we can simply get a 
timeframe within which this can be debated, when we can consider it in 
a way that gives us a commitment to vote on a minimum wage.
  The ultimate irony is that the majority is asking people making $4.25 
an hour to wait until the majority figures out a way to cut their 
Medicare benefits before they allow them a 45-cent increase. 
Republicans--at least some of them--are prepared to wage a war on 
working families.
  Two days ago, we saw that they are willing to go to any length to 
avoid a vote and to face a choice. We saw a 4-hour quorum call, a 
motion to recommit, a recess in one of the biggest weeks of the year, 
and talk of an unfunded mandates points of order.
  Mr. President, never have so few done so much to deny so little to so 
  Working Americans are not going to be fooled. Our Republican 
colleagues cannot have it both ways. They express newfound concern for 
workers in a campaign but then manufacture reasons to oppose them when 
it is real.
  If you oppose the minimum wage, as the House majority leader does, 
then vote against this. But if you believe that 12 million people--many 
the sole earners for their families--deserve an increase, then vote for 
  The time to face up to that choice is what this is all about. It is 
what we were elected to do. Let us do it this afternoon.
  Several Senators addressed the Chair.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, will the minority leader yield for a 
  Mr. DASCHLE. If I have time available, I will be happy to yield for a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I ask the Democrat leader. Is it not so that 51 Senators have already 
gone on record in favor of raising the minimum wage?
  Mr. DASCHLE. The Senator is correct. We have seen a number of 
Republicans as well as Democrats--in fact, almost unanimously the 
Democrats and many Republicans have indicated their support in votes 
taken earlier last year.
  So clearly we have a majority vote in the Senate in support of an 
increase in the minimum wage.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, will my leader agree that these 
parliamentary maneuvers are really meant to delay, put off, postpone, 
block an up-or-down vote even though the majority of Senators support 
such an increase?
  Mr. DASCHLE. The Senator is correct.
  Several Senators addressed the Chair.
  Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, will the minority leader yield for a 
  Mr. DASCHLE. I am happy to yield, if I have any time.
  Mr. NICKLES. I ask the Senator from South Dakota, correct me if I am 
wrong, but when the Democrats were in control of the Senate and the 
House in 1993 and 1994 and you had Bill Clinton in the White House, if 
this is so urgent, why did not you bring it to the floor any time 
during those 2 years? Is there any reason why it was not brought to the 
floor at that time?
  Mr. DASCHLE. The answer is very simple. Obviously, if we could put 
some sort of cost of living adjustment in the minimum wage we would do 
so. We would do so today. We would do so any time. Obviously that is 
not possible. So we have to revisit the issue from time to time. The 
average length of time between increases of the minimum wage is 6 or 7 
years. You cannot do it the first couple of years. We know that. As 
much as we would like to, we recognize the limitations of increasing 
the minimum wage. But over a period of time, you finally have to come 
to the conclusion that, if you cannot do it in 2 years, if you cannot 
do it in 3 years, at least you have to do it in 5 years.
  That is really what this is all about--a recognition that we could 
not do it before but we ought to do it now--now that we have reached a 
purchasing power level that approaches the lowest in history.
  So certainly the Senator from Oklahoma recognizes, as all of us do, 
that this is the time to face up to the facts and adjust this minimum 
wage as we know we must.
  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time has expired.
  Mr. DASCHLE. My time has expired.
  I appreciate the indulgence of the President.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Fifteen seconds.
  Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I think we have just witnessed a 
preview of the course of the Senate action from here on until the 
elections. It is going to be crass political attacks against the 
Republican Presidential nominee, Bob Dole. Nothing meaningful is going 
to get done in this body, and that is simply too bad.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.
  Mr. WARNER addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  (The remarks of Mr. Warner pertaining to the introduction of 
legislation are located in today's Record under ``Statements on 
Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.'')