WASHINGTON - The push by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage seems ready to join the parade of issues that gets buried in Congress but - the party hopes - propels voters to the polls this November.
Immigration. Renewing expired jobless benefits. Tighter curbs on guns. All of them Obama priorities. All of them attracting some Republican support. And all of them tripped up, at least for now, by GOP opposition.
And now, a bill by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, boosting today's $7.25 hourly minimum in three steps until it hits $10.10 as soon as 2016. His minimum wage bill is widely expected to join that list Wednesday, when the Senate seems poised to vote on it.
Though it should win backing from nearly all of the 53 Democrats and two Democratic-leaning independents, few Republicans are expected to join them, likely leaving them shy of the needed 60 votes to begin debate.
Today, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters he will probably vote to let the Senate consider the bill. That made him the first GOP senator to publicly take that stance, though he also said he would oppose the legislation on final passage.
"On the issue of wages for Americans, I don't know why you wouldn't want to debate that," he said.