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Rep. Tim Bishop today stepped forward to file a discharge petition to force the Republican-controlled House to vote on a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over the next three years from its current $7.25 an hour.
Bishop (D-Southampton) said he turned to the parliamentary procedure that forces a bill stuck in committee to be taken up on the House floor for a vote because the House Republican leadership is blocking the minimum wage bill sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Cal.).
“It’s an important issue. It’s an issue our Republican colleagues have shown no interest in pursuing. I serve on the Education Committee... and there is not a hint of even holding a hearing on the bill,” he said. “This is one of the few mechanisms available to the minority to move something that the leadership refuses to move.”
To succeed, Bishop needs to get 218 House members to sign the petition, a tough goal, he acknowledges, given the reluctance of Republicans to break ranks under threat of punishment by House GOP leaders.
He said he intends to reach out to seven Republicans who signed a letter in favor of a minimum wage hike seven years ago – including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
“This is a challenge. Everybody knows that discharge petitions don’t have a great track record,” said Bishop, who said he hasn't filed one before, though he has signed several.
The last time a discharge petition worked was in 2003, when it was used for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. The discharge petition Bishop filed today is the seventh one Democrats have filed this session of Congress. He said he so far has about 150 signatures. None of the others this session have gotten more than 197 signers, all of them Democrats.