Hours before a scheduled vote on the matter in the Senate, Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said Wednesday that he believes congressional Republicans should support raising the minimum wage from time to time.
Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Pawlenty said the GOP should back a "reasonable" minimum wage hike as a way to help working families. He didn't specifically throw his weight behind the Democratic proposal now sitting before Congress, which would raise the wage floor to $10.10 per hour from $7.25 and tie it to inflation.
"Republicans should support reasonable increases to the minimum wage. If you're going talk to the talk about being for the middle-class working person, if we have a minimum wage, it should be reasonably adjusted from time to time," he said. "For all the Republicans who come on and talk about, you know, ‘We’re for the blue-collar worker, we’re for the working person,’ there are some basic things that we should be for."
Later Wednesday, in an email to Politico, Pawlenty clarified that he doesn't support the current Democratic proposal, saying the raise would be too significant.
"[W]hile I support reasonable increases in the minimum wage, the proposal being presented by the Senate majority goes too far and too fast," Pawlenty wrote. He also noted that his statement on "Morning Joe" reflected his personal beliefs, not those of the Financial Services Roundtable, the banking and investment trade group of which he is the CEO.
Raising the minimum wage is one of the top priorities for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats this year. The Senate is set to hold a critical vote on their bill on Wednesday, though it's unlikely Democrats will have the required 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. House Republicans have shown no interest so far in taking up the House bill.
The minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009, after the last of a series of increases signed into law by President George W. Bush. Cities and states around the country have opted to raise their own minimum wages in lieu of action from Congress.