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Senate Democrats Threaten Repeated Votes On Minimum Wage

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

"I can tell you that if we don't get 60 votes on cloture we're going to come back again and again," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "We're not just going to walk away after one vote. It's too important for that."

On a conference call with reporters Monday, Harkin said Democrats are "close" to the 60 votes needed to defeat an expected filibuster and ensure passage of the bill through the Senate, positing that all but one Democrats are on board. He said he expects a floor vote this week or next.

A minimum wage hike -- a core plank of the Democrats' 2014 agenda -- is backed by three in four Americans, according to a Gallup poll in November. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office found that lifting the wage to $10.10 per hour would boost the earnings of 16.5 million workers while costing about 500,000 jobs by the second half of 2016.

"This is not just an election type vote thing we're doing," Harkin said. "This is because we have to stimulate the economy."

The legislation, championed by President Barack Obama, is a long shot in the Senate, where it appears to have no Republican support. And even if it does pass the Senate, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is strongly opposed to bringing it up in the House.

Harkin, though, remains hopeful.

"Why would [Republicans] want to do it? For their own survival," he said. "Because of the election.