DAVENPORT | Even with Republicans controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Friday he thinks a boost in the minimum wage can get through Congress this year.
Harkin, along with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., have proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. President Barack Obama even mentioned the two and their proposal in Tuesday's State of the Union speech.
Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a key part of their agenda aimed at addressing income inequality, and even with Republicans holding the House, Harkin said, "I have every reason to believe sometime this year we will pass an increase in the minimum wage."
Harkin met Friday with the editorial board of the Quad-City Times, a sister paper to the Courier.
"I just don’t think Republicans in the House want to go into this election being tagged as being opposed to raising the minimum wage," Harkin said.
Harkin said that 306,000 Iowans would get a raise with the change.
The five-term senator is in his last year in office. But as chairman of the powerful Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, he has a wide portfolio.
Noting his introduction of a bill this week that would set up a new pension system, Harkin said he would concentrate on a number of other initiatives in his last year, including advancing early education initiatives, the Workforce Investment Act and oversight of the Affordable Care Act.
Harkin also said the Senate is within three votes of passing a United Nations treaty on disability rights. Some conservatives have opposed the treaty, saying it impinges on sovereign rights, something supporters say isn't true.