Here’s what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francsico, had to say at a rally today in Washington, D.C.’s Upper Senate Park celebrating today’s increase of the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 — the first increase in the minimum wage since 1997, and a promise upon which Congressional Democrats were able to deliver this year without Republicans threatening a filibuster:
“Leader Reid, it seems like yesterday we were here urging the Senate to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. And here we are, one week later, gathered here to observe a remarkable thing. An increase in minimum wage shouldn’t be that remarkable, but it took 10 long years because of Republican obstructionism to block fairness for an increase in the minimum wage. Ten years. In fact, in the last Congress, the Republicans prevented consideration of the minimum wage coming to the House floor 11 times. Does that tell you whose side they are on?
“This is a day that signals change. Because people who went to work this morning, who go to work every day to provide for their families today will have their work rewarded more fully. It’s not enough, but it’s a great start. And it’s part of a progressive agenda for economic growth in our country that talks about rewarding work, about educating our people.
“Because of Congressman George Miller, the House passed the best tuition package for helping kids go to college since the GI Bill in 1944. They seem to go together, this commitment to the future. In the Senate, Senator Kennedy took the lead on the minimum wage; he’s taking the lead on the higher education package as well.
“So it’s about jobs, it’s about education, it’s about SCHIP, it’s about having affordable health care for millions more of America’s children. It’s about affordable housing; it’s about honoring our promises to our veterans.
“This is about the future, it’s about fairness, and it’s about having many more Americans participate in the economic success of our country, where our prosperity is shared because of a progressive economic agenda.
“This is just the beginning.
“In the coming months, we will expand cost-effective health coverage for millions of uninsured children; lower energy costs for all Americans, and create the next generation of good-paying American jobs by growing our renewable energy and technology sectors.”