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Senate Democrats consider wage vote

Thu., Sept. 4, 2014

WASHINGTON – Looking to motivate their most loyal supporters, Democrats may hold a campaign-season Senate vote as soon as next week on their effort to boost the federal minimum wage, Senate aides and lobbyists said Wednesday.

The Senate also may revisit a pair of other Democratic measures this month that, like minimum wage, were blocked by Republicans earlier this year. One would let people refinance student loans at lower interest rates while the other would pressure employers to pay female workers the same as men.

All three measures seem assured of defeat. But with less than eight weeks until congressional elections in which Republicans hope to capture Senate control, Democrats and their supporters see the issues as a chance to appeal to working-class, female and younger voters – groups that often back Democratic candidates – and contributors as well.

Looking to bolster fellow Democrats, President Barack Obama used a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee on Monday to emphasize improvements in the economy and renew his push for an increase, saying, “America deserves a raise.”

Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said no decisions have been made on holding the votes.

But other aides and lobbyists said Democratic leaders hope to stage the votes during what is expected to be a brief pre-election session of Congress scheduled to end by Sept. 23. Congress returns Monday from its summer recess.