Frist slips 'poison pill' to minimum wage bill

It was so much easier for Senate Republicans to kill both attempts by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to raise the minimum wage last year with no midterm elections looming right around the corner. With nothing more than their routine disregard for the poor as an excuse, the GOP leadership killed two bills offered by Kennedy in 2005 to raise a federal minimum wage that has remained the same for almost a decade.

This year it's tougher, because Republican Senators up for reelection may have to explain screwing working Americans in a more recent vote while, at the same time, managing to give themselves nine pay raises, totaling almost $32,000, in the same ten-year span.

So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has found a new way to pull his Simon Legree act and this time it takes the form of attaching a "poison pill" amendment to Kennedy's S.AMDT.4322, which would gradually raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years.

A poison-pill is a procedural maneuver in which an onerous amendment is attached to a bill under consideration to force proponents of the original legislation to bail out and drop the whole issue. It's designed to either kill a bill entirely or create a situation that forces the other side into a negotiation to water down their original legislation to an unrecognizable point.

And the best way for a Religious Right go-to guy like Frist to do that -- and to poke a sharp stick in the eye of Senate Democrats -- is to attach an anti-abortion bill, that must be voted on before the minimum wage measure. Frist's S.AMDT.4323 would criminalize the transport of a minor across state lines to get an abortion and Democrats have to contend with that before they can get to the minimum wage issue.

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