Minimum Wage Bill Fails in Senate, But Don’t Expect Issue to Disappear

By Ilyse Wolens Schuman

As expected, Senate supporters of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 2223) failed this week to garner the 60 votes needed to bring the measure to a floor vote without the threat of a filibuster.

The legislation – which would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in increments over a three-year period and indexed future increases to inflation – was considered a symbolic component of President Obama’s “Opportunity for All” agenda laid out in his Statute of the Union Address.

The motion to invoke cloture on the Minimum Wage Fairness Act failed by a vote of 54-42.

A push to revise overtime regulations

Likely knowing that a federal minimum wage bill would not advance in this divided Congress, President Obama has taken executive action in recent months to implement pay changes, including issuing an Executive Order raising the minimum wage for certain federal contractors and directing the U.S. Department of Labor to revise its overtime exemptions for white-collar employees.

Now that David Weil has been confirmed as the new Administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the agency will have a wage equity advocate at the helm.

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During a Labor Department conference call this week to promote increasing the minimum wage, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said that Weil will be tasked with revising the overtime regulations per the President’s Executive Order, administering the recent changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime rules for home care workers, and focusing on the many WHD employee misclassification initiatives.

It is likely the Labor Department will continue to focus on wage equity this election year, as it has even established a webpage dedicated to raising the minimum wage.

While the Minimum Wage Fairness Act is effectively dead this year, do not expect the issue to disappear.

This was originally published on Littler Mendelson’s Workplace Policy Update blog© 2014 Littler Mendelson. All Rights Reserved. Littler®, Employment & Labor Law Solutions Worldwide® and ASAP® are registered trademarks of Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Ilyse W. Schuman is a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Littler Mendelson. She provides strategic counsel and representation to clients on a broad array of workplace issues and developments in Congress and executive branch federal agencies.

She is a member of the firm's Government Affairs practice and works with employers in multiple industries, including trade associations. She also leads the firm's Legislative and Regulatory practice.

A former top congressional staffer and policy advisor, Ilyse worked on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 2001 to 2008, serving as minority staff director and chief counsel. She began her work in the Senate as chief labor counsel for Senator Mike Enzi on the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, where she led legislative and oversight activities.

After leaving the Senate, Schuman joined a leading trade association of electro-industry manufacturers as vice president, where she served as managing director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance, the collective voice of medical imaging equipment manufacturers. Additionally, she served as in-house counsel at a manufacturer and market and technology leader, where she advised the company on human resource matters. In law school, she was a member of the Journal of Law and Policy in International Business.