In a struggle drenched with presidential politics, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole intervened Tuesday to block Democratic demands for an immediate vote on raising the minimum wage.
“On the day that Bob Dole locks up the Republican (presidential) nomination, he locks out working families who are looking for a very modest increase” in their paycheck, charged Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Asked if he was aware that Democrats were marring Dole’s anticipated triumph Tuesday night in the California presidential primary, Kennedy, D-Mass., told reporters, “We haven’t lost sleep over it.”
Dole charged Democrats were playing special interest politics with their maneuver to force a vote on a measure to raise the federal minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 in two annual increments of 45 cents.
The struggle demonstrated that Dole has grasped a double-edged sword as he campaigns as his party’s presidential nominee while retaining his post as Senate majority leader.
He hopes to benefit by shepherding measures to Clinton’s desk, such as welfare reform, as well as by showcasing support for politically popular bills that are doomed either to veto or defeat in the Senate.
On the other hand, he found himself on the defensive as Democrats used legislation to make additions to the nation’s parks system as a vehicle for a vote on their proposal to raise the minimum wage.