WASHINGTON - Striving to show momentum on a top legislative priority, President Barack Obama is appearing next week with Northeastern governors who back his push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and will pledge to lift the earnings of the lowest-paid workers in their states to at least the same level.
Obama planned an appearance Wednesday at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain with Democratic Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
A higher minimum wage and an overhaul of immigration laws are Obama priorities, but it remains doubtful whether lawmakers will send him either piece of legislation this year, particularly when the entire House and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election.
A Senate-passed immigration bill is stalled in the House, while Republicans oppose raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, arguing that jobs will be eliminated, unemployment will rise and the economy will suffer if the government forces businesses to cut bigger paychecks for their workers.
The White House believes momentum for a higher minimum wage is building, however, and wants to keep the pressure on Congress, in part to help draw distinctions between the political parties for November's voters.
"It is time to give America a raise or elect more Democrats who will do it," Obama told Democrats at the party's winter meeting Friday in Washington.