WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- President Obama praised Hawaiian lawmakers for raising the state's minimum wage in a statement before a similar hike stalled Wednesday in the U.S. Senate.
Hawaii's legislature voted Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in stages to $10.10 an hour. The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat.
Soon after Obama issued his statement, a Senate vote to end debate on the minimum wage failed 54-42. Only one Republican voted with the Democrats to bring the bill to the floor.
Obama said that Hawaii, the state where he was born and spent much of his childhood, is joining "a large and growing coalition" of states, local governments and businesses who recognize that the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not adequate.
"This important step in Hawaii is yet another sign that the American people support raising the minimum wage, and I urge Republicans in Congress to follow Hawaii’s lead and lift wages for 28 million Americans," Obama said. "With a Senate vote on this crucial issue planned for today, it’s time for Republicans in Congress to listen to the majority of Americans who say it’s time to give America a raise."
Obama and other Democratic leaders hope to make the minimum wage a major issue in the midterm elections in the fall. A number of Democratic states have now voted for increases, while Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, in a state that has become a Republican stronghold, signed a bill that bars local governments from requiring employers to provide specific benefits and bans a minimum wage hike.