Senator Jim DeMint proposed an amendment last week that would have given every minimum-wage worker in every state a raise of $2.10 per hour, but the effort failed.
The amendment would have raised the effective minimum wage in every state by $2.10 over a period of 26 months, even if a state had passed a minimum wage above the federal level.
DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, said he proposed the amendment because any minimum wage increase should recognize cost-of-living differences in states. He argued that the amendment would be fair to all workers and employers.
Democrats described the effort as a stunt to force an uncomfortable vote among Senators in states with high minimum wages.
"This amendment is a poison pill," says Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts. "It serves no legitimate legislative purpose other than to take a political stab at members from those states with the foresight to raise their minimum wages above the federal level in response to almost a decade of federal inaction."
The Senate continues to consider House-approved legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over a period of 26 months. Under DeMint's amendment, even states with minimum wages above $7.25 per hour, such as Massachusetts, would have had to raise their minimum wages.