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Monday, September 2, 2013

Mark Pryor Celebrates Arkansas’ Workforce at Labor Day Picnic; Discusses Need for Fair Wages to Keep Hard-Working Arkansas Families Secure

Rep. Tom Cotton voted against raising the minimum wage in Congress, even though Arkansas has the nation’s lowest median income for a family of four

LITTLE ROCK — Today, Mark Pryor attended the United Steelworkers Labor Day Picnic at the Four State Fairgrounds in Texarkana to highlight his longstanding commitment to wage fairness for Arkansas workers and families, which stands in contrast to his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, who opposed increasing the minimum wage and voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act and affordable student loans.

“Arkansas’ workforce is the core of our state’s economy, but the harsh reality is that wage gaps are growing and our families are falling behind,” Mark Pryor said. “We must ensure that hard work earns a fair paycheck for every Arkansan, and I’ll continue to be a reliable voice for a strong minimum wage, because standing up for Arkansas families is the responsible thing to do.”  

Throughout his 22 years in public service, Mark Pryor has consistently supported raising the minimum wage to a level that works for our business community while improving economic security for hard-working Arkansans. Pryor voted nine times to raise the minimum wage in the U.S. Senate and twice in the Arkansas legislature. Tom Cotton, on the other hand, opposed a minimum wage increase in the U.S. House of Representatives, even as he voted for tax cuts for millionaires.

While Arkansas has the lowest median income in the nation for a family of four, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Tom Cotton has voted against raising the minimum wage at every opportunity. He also opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act and federal student loans that help thousands of Arkansas families send their kids to college — and he supported controversial Republican budgets that gut Medicare while giving enormous tax breaks to millionaires.

Pryor’s visit to Texarkana today began the final week of Congress’ August recess, during which he has crisscrossed Arkansas seeking input from constituents, business leaders, and state and local officials about the Arkansas’ most pressing needs.

BACKGROUND:

Cotton Opposed Protecting Employment Protections And Raising Minimum Wage. In 2013, Cotton voted against a motion to recommit the bill to the House Education and the Workforce Committee that would incrementally increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 within two years of the bill’s enactment. The motion was rejected by a vote of 184-233. [CQ; HR 803, Vote #74, 3/15/13]

March 2005: Pryor Voted To Raise Minimum Wage From $5.15 To $7.25. On March 7, 2005, Mark Pryor voted for an amendment to a Bankruptcy overhaul bill that “would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over 26 months.” The amendment was rejected 46-49. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #26, 3/7/05]

October 2005: Pryor Supported Increasing Minimum Wage To $6.25. On October 19, 2005, Pryor voted for the motion to waive the Budget Act with respect to the Bond, R-Mo., point of order against the Kennedy amendment no. 2063. The Kennedy amendment would increase the minimum wage to $5.70 six months after the bill’s enactment and to $6.25 one year after enactment. The motion to waive was rejected 47-51. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #257, 10/19/2005]

June 2006: Pryor Voted To Increase Minimum Wage To $7.25. On June 21, 2006, Pryor voted for an amendment to the 2007 Defense Authorization that “would raise the federal minimum wage to $5.85 per hour 60 days after the bill’s enactment. The minimum wage would increase to $6.55 per hour 12 months later and to $7.25 per hour the following year.” The amendment was rejected 52-46. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #179, 6/21/2006]

January 2007: Pryor Voted To Advance Minimum Wage Increase Bill. On January 24, 2007, Pryor voted for a motion to invoke cloture on a bill “that would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years.” The motion was rejected 54-43. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #23, 1/24/07]

January 2007: Pryor Voted To Advance Bill That Raised Minimum Wage To $7.25. On January 31, 2007, Pryor voted for a motion to invoke cloture on the bill that “would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years and provide $8.3 billion in small-business tax incentives, offset by certain revenue increases, including a $1 million cap on the amount of executive compensation that can be tax-deferred in any year and an extension of backward restrictions on certain sale-in-lease-out deals.” The motion was agreed to 88-8. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #39, 1/31/07]

February 2007: Pryor Voted To Pass Bill That Increased Minimum Wage To $7.25. On February 1, 2007, Pryor voted for passage of the bill that “would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years and provide $8.3 billion in small-business tax incentives, including extending the work opportunity tax credit for five years, and the small business expensing deduction through 2010.” The bill passed 94-3. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #42, 2/1/07]

March 2007: Pryor Voted To Increase Minimum Wage To $7.25. On March 29, 2007, Pryor voted for passage of a bill that “would also raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years and provide $8.3 billion in small-business tax incentives.” The bill passed 51-47. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #126, 3/29/07]

April 2007: Pryor Voted To Increase Minimum Wage. On April 26, 2007, Pryor voted to adopt the conference report on a bill that “would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years and provide $4.8 billion in small-business tax incentives.” The conference report was adopted 51-46.  [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #147, 4/26/07]

May 2007: Pryor Voted To Increase Minimum Wage To $7.25. On May 24, 2007, Mark Pryor voted for motion to concur in the House amendments to the bill that “would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years and provide $4.8 billion in small-business tax incentives.” The motion was agreed to 80-14. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #181, 5/24/07]
1991: Pryor Voted To Raise State Minimum Wage.  Raises minimum wage to $3.65 beginning Sept. 1, 1991; to $4.00 beginning April 1, 1992. Wage. [S.B. 200, 2/25/91, passed 93-0]

1993: Pryor Voted to Increase State Minimum Wage. Pryor voted to increase the minimum wage in Arkansas to $4.15. [HB 1531, 2/17/93,passed 90-0]

Arkansas Median Income For Family Of Four is Lowest In The Country. [State Median Family Income by Family Size, Census Bureau, 2011]

Cotton Voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget That Restructured Medicare as “Premium Support System.” In 2013, Cotton voted for passage of the controversial Ryan Budget that would provide $2.769 trillion in new budget authority in fiscal 2014, not including off-budget accounts. It would assume repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul and a restructuring of Medicare into a “premium support” system beginning in 2024. It would call for an overhaul of the tax code, under which the alternative minimum tax would be repealed, the six current individual income tax brackets would be consolidated into two and tax credits and deductions would be eliminated or curtailed. The budget was adopted by a vote of 221-207. [CQ; H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]

Tax Policy Expert: Ryan Plan Likely To Lead To Large Increase In Tax Burden On Middle Income Families. According to the International Business Times, “According to Michael Linden, the [Tax Policy Center’s] director for tax and budget policy, Ryan’s proposals wouldn’t come close to generating revenue of 19.1 percent of GDP by 2023, as he lays out in the plan. That’s because he still has not identified how he would pay for those cuts. ‘If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the same play that Rep. Ryan and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ran in the 2012 election: promising enormous tax cuts with no way to pay for them except by raising taxes on the middle class. The only difference this time is that this version of Rep. Ryan’s budget has a bigger revenue hole than the Romney budget did, meaning his tax increases on the middle would have to be even bigger,’ Linden wrote Tuesday.Last year, the TPC estimated the revenue generators in the House Republican budget would produce the equivalent of 15.8 percent of the GDP by 2022. That means Ryan is already missing about $840 billion of the revenue he would need to reach the 19.1 percent goal in 2023 alone (Ryan claim’s his plan would balance the federal budget by 2023). That’s adds up to about $7 trillion over the entire 10-year period outlined.” [International Business Times, 3/13/13]

Ryan Budget Concentrated Tax Cuts for Wealthiest, Would Cut Income Taxes For Top 0.1% Of Earners By $1.2 Million. “According to the [Tax Policy Center], the top 0.1 percent of incomes would see a $1.2 million increase in after-tax income.” In addition, “But while a Tax Policy Center Analysis found previous versions of the Ryan budget created about $3 trillion worth of tax breaks for the highest-earners, the Center for American Progress reports the 2014 budget would result in $7 trillion in revenue losses – a majority of which would go to the richest Americans.”  [Business Insider, 3/13/13; International Business Times, 3/13/13]

Cotton Voted Against Considering Paycheck Fairness Act. In April 2013, the Huffington Post reported, “House GOP leadership is not likely to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote any time soon, but House Democrats used a procedural move to force them to go on record opposing the bill on Thursday. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the sponsor of the equal pay legislation, filed a discharge petition on the bill Thursday morning that would immediately force a vote on it if she could collect 218 signatures. Democrats also put forth a motion on Thursday known as the ‘Previous Question,’ which would have enabled them to put the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote, but Republicans killed the effort by a vote of 226 to 192.” Cotton voted against considering the measure. [Huffington Post, 4/12/13; Vote 97, 4/11/13]

Cotton Was One Of Only 31 House Members — The Only Arkansan — To Vote Against Compromise Bill Reducing Student Loan Interest Rates. In July 2013, Cotton was the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to vote against Kline, R-Minn., motion to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill that would set federal student loan interest rates issued after July 1, 2013 to the Treasury Department’s 10-year borrowing rate, plus 2.05 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized undergraduate loans, 3.6 percent for graduate loans and 4.6 percent for PLUS loans. The loan rates would be capped at 8.25 percent, 9.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. It would require the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress within four months detailing the federal government’s cost of administering the student loan program and recommendations to avoid generating additional revenue from the program. The motion was agreed to 392-31: R 221-6; D 171-25; I 0-0. [HR 1911, Vote 426, 7/31/13]

Cotton Was One Of 8 Republicans And 190 Democrats To Vote Against A Republican Plan To Allow Student Loan Interest Rates To Float. “The House approved a Republican proposal Thursday to allow interest rates on federal student loans to rise or fall from year to year with the government’s cost of borrowing, ending a system in which rates are fixed by law. The proposal cleared the GOP-led House on a largely party-line vote of 221 to 198, but it faces opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate and a veto threat from the Obama administration. The legislation responds to a looming deadline: On July 1, unless the law is changed, rates for a certain type of new loan for undergraduate students in financial need will double to 6.8 percent, from 3.4 percent.” [CQ; H.R. 1911, Vote #183, 5/23/13; Washington Post, 5/23/13]

The NRCC Criticized Congressmen Who Against The Republican Student Loan Reform Plan, Which Included Cotton. In May 2013, Roll Call reported: “The National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee each blasted the other side after a near party-line vote on the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which passed the House on Thursday, 221-198. But eight House Republicans voted with the Democrats, and four House Democrats voted with the Republicans, creating a situation where 12 House members were indirectly attacked by their own party’s campaign committee… Those Republicans included Mo Brooks of Alabama, Vern Buchanan of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Graves of Georgia, Michael G. Grimm of New York, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.” [Roll Call, 5/24/13]

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