GOP hits Pelosi’s ‘hypocrisy’ on min­i­mum wage bill

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Charles Hurt

House Repub­li­cans on Jan. 11 de­clared “some­thing fishy” about the ma­jor tuna com­pany in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Fran­cisco dis­trict be­ing ex­empted from the min­i­mumwage in­crease that Democrats ap­proved last week.

“I am shocked,” said Rep. Eric Can­tor, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can and his party’s chief deputy whip, not­ing that Mrs. Pelosi cam­paigned heav­ily on prom­ises of hon­est gov­ern­ment. “Now we find out that she is ex­empt­ing home­town com­pa­nies from min­i­mum wage. This is ex­actly the hypocrisy and dou­ble talk that we have come to ex­pect from the Democrats.”

On Jan. 10, the House voted to raise the min­i­mum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.

The bill also ex­tends for the first time the fed­eral min­i­mum wage to the U.S. ter­ri­tory of the North­ern Mar­i­ana Is­lands.

How­ever, it ex­empts Amer­i­can Samoa, an­other Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory that would be- come the only U.S. ter­ri­tory not sub­ject to fed­eral min­i­mumwage laws.

One of the big­gest op­po­nents of the fed­eral min­i­mum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two pack­ing plants that to­gether em­ploy more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 per­cent of the is­land’s work force. StarKist’s par­ent com­pany, Del Monte Corp., has head­quar­ters in San Fran­cisco, which is rep­re­sented by Mrs. Pelosi. The other plant be­longs to Cal­i­for­nia-based Chicken of the Sea.

“There’s some­thing fishy go­ing on here,” said Rep. Pa­trick T. McHenry, North Carolina Repub­li­can.

Dur­ing the House de­bate Jan. 11 on stem-cell re­search, Mr. McHenry raised a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry as to whether an amend­ment could be of­fered that would ex­empt Amer­i­can Samoa from stem-cell re­search, “just as it was for the min­i­mumwage bill.”

A clearly per­turbed Rep. Bar­ney Frank, the Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat who was pre­sid­ing, cut off Mr. McHenry and shouted, “No, it would not be.”

“So, the chair is say­ing I may not of­fer an amend­ment ex­empt­ing Amer­i­can Samoa?” Mr. McHenry pressed.

“The gen­tle­man is mak­ing a speech and will sus­tain,” Mr. Frank shouted as he slammed his large wooden gavel against the ros­trum.

Some Repub­li­cans who voted in fa­vor of the min­i­mum-wage bill were par­tic­u­larly ir­ri­tated to learn Jan. 11 — af­ter their vote — that the leg­is­la­tion did not in­clude Amer­i­can Samoa.

“I was trou­bled to learn of this ex­emp­tion,” said Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illi­nois Repub­li­can. “My in­ten­tion was to raise the min­i­mum wage for ev­ery­one. We shouldn’t per­mit any spe­cial fa­vors or ex­emp­tions that are not widely dis­cussed in Congress. This is the prob­lem with rush­ing leg­is­la­tion through with­out full de­bate.”

A spokes­woman for Mrs. Pelosi said Jan. 10 that the speaker has not been lob­bied in any way by StarKist or Del Monte.

Getty Images

Rep. Eric Can­tor ques­tioned a min­i­mum-wage ex­emp­tion that would ben­e­fit a com­pany based in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s dis­trict.

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