Nevada senators split on minimum wage hike issue

WASHINGTON — Nevada’s senators split Wednesday on raising the minimum wage to an hourly $10.10.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller voted against the wage increase. Democratic Sen. Harry Reid favored the increase but cast a vote against it in a procedural move that allows him as Senate majority leader to bring it up again at a time of his choosing.

Both Nevadans previously had disclosed their positions, so there were no surprises in the vote. In fact, as expected, the Senate failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to get beyond a Republican-led filibuster that effectively shelved the bill. The vote was 54-42.

While the issue may or may not come up again this year, the vote is expected to be woven into political campaigns this election year.

“The contrast cannot be clearer,” Reid said after the vote. “Today we saw a clear distinction between what Democrats are fighting for and what Republicans are fighting for. They are fighting for billionaires, we are fighting for people who are struggling to make a living.”

Heller’s vote was rooted in his belief the minimum wage should be determined by individual states and not the federal government, “and this particular legislation is no exception,” according to his spokeswoman Chandler Smith.

Smith added Heller was persuaded by a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the legislation “could cost our economy 500,000 jobs.

“At a time when so many Nevada families and businesses are struggling, Congress must take care to pass policies that encourage job growth,” Smith said.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A number of states have taken action individually to increase the wage, and by the end of this year half of them will have minimum wage rates higher than the federal level. The current minimum wage in Nevada is $8.25 an hour.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at STetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760 or. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC on Twitter