Yesterday the House democrats got a dose of reality when the Senate failed to pass the minimum wage increase that sailed through the House a couple of weeks ago as one of the democrats highly publicized “first hundred hours� pieces of legislation. The Senate did vote 54 – 43 to advance the bill, but that fell short of the 60 votes needed in order to keep the minimum wage hike afloat.

Although House democrats were hell bent on passing a “clean� bill, which would raise the national minimum wage by $2.10 an hour, many of their counterparts in the Senate, including Sen. Harry Reid, are now backing a modified version that includes an $8.3 billion tax package that would extend for five years a tax credit for employers who hire low-income or disadvantaged workers. It also extends until 2010 tax rules that permit businesses to combine as much as $112,000 in expenses into one annual tax deduction.

House members Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy remained committed to pressuring the Senate to pass the bill “as is� and soon after the Senate’s rejection of the House version of the minimum wage legislation, some of the House Democrats were chomping at the bit to blame the Republicans for the impasse. Senate Democrats, however, urged their House colleagues not to endanger legislation they’d promised to approve if they gained control of Congress.

The failure of the minimum wage legislation in the Senate does highlight a couple of big problems that the Democrats will face as they send other legislation to the Senate in the future.

1) Even though the Democrats have the votes to do as they please in the House, they will have to be willing to compromise if they ever want anything to pass in the Senate.

2) Harry Reid can’t afford to be a yes man for the House Democrats unless he wants to be a totally unproductive and ineffective Senate Majority Leader.

It does seem that Harry Reid will have his hands full trying to balance pleasing the House Democrats, and cooperating with Senate Republicans in order to keep legislation moving.

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