GOP stalls on minimum wage to avoid Iraq votes

The majority of Senate Republicans filibustering and delaying the passage of a new minimum wage law may be heartless, but they're not dumb. They know that bumping the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour is enormously popular with the American people and they're also aware that it passed by huge numbers in the House of Representatives, with 80 Republicans voting in favor of helping the working poor.

So why the stalling? Why put off the inevitable with over 100 nonsensical amendments, while already voting once against ending debate on a clean minimum wage bill?

Well, folks, it's kind of like the Seinfeld episode, where George Costanza knows his girlfriend is about to break up with him so he just ducks her -- breaks dates, pretends he's not home, doesn’t answer the phone, reasoning that if he can stall her by not being available, she can’t break up with him.

Except in this case, the Republicans figure that if they can keep the Senate occupied indefinitely with an open-and-shut thing like a minimum wage increase, they can avoid the thing they fear most -- having to vote on any of the myriad Iraq-war resolutions waiting in the wings.

"Tuesday, we'll have a vote and, you know, they may defeat cloture just like they did on the ethics thing," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), at a joint press conference with Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on Friday. "They know that they're on the wrong side on this issue. And we're going to not let them forget it."

"If they defeat cloture on minimum wage, they think we're going to bring this right back? Oh, no we're not. We're going to move to another subject they don't like to talk about: escalation of the war in Iraq… they know when minimum wage is finished, we're going to Iraq."

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