Opposition’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) members turned the Kerala Assembly upside down Thursday as they tried to stop the Finance Minister K.M. Mani from presenting the budget. The CPI(M) led opposition had earlier warned that it would not let Mani present the budget in the assembly as he is facing bribery charges in the bar license scandal.
The opposition members who had stayed overnight in the assembly blocked the way to the Speaker’s podium and threw away his chair and mike. The unruly opposition tried to stop the Finance Minister from entering the House by blocking the entrance. A scuffle also broke out between the members of the opposition and the House security.
Mani, however managed to enter the House from a different entrance and present the budget. The news that the budget has been passed turned the LDF and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers protesting outside the assembly violent.
The police had to resort to lathi-charge, teargas shells and opened water cannons to disperse the violent protesters. They set fire to a police vehicle and beat up several police personnel.
House lawmakers voted Wednesday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In a vote that mostly followed party lines, House members passed the Raise The Wage Act, the first minimum wage increase since 2009. The measure has not yet come up in the Senate. The bill would more than double the national minimum wage over the next 6 years, a marked increase from the current $7.25 federal minimum wage.
The bill would also raise the minimum wage for tipped employees to the same level from the current $2.13 an hour.
In the 231-to-199 vote, three Republican representatives joined the majority and voted for the bill, while six Democrats voted against it.
“This is about workers, it’s about their economic and financial security and today is a bright day because it affects so many people in our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at a news conference.
While the vote was nearly unanimous by Democrats, some members were skeptical.
Democrats Tom O’Halleran of Arizona and Stephanie Murphy of Florida introduced an amendment that would mandate the Government Accountability Office to track the bill’s effects and report to the House before the entire wage increase is implemented. It passed 248-181.
Republican lawmakers voiced sharp opposition, arguing it will stifle economic growth.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said that the bill would “eviscerate millions of American jobs,” referencing a report by the Congressional Budget Office that projected between 1 million and 3 million Americans could lose their jobs if the bill were to become law.
The CBO also predicted that the bill would give over 30 million Americans raises, lifting 1 million from poverty.
In the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell questioned why the Senate would “depress the economy at a time of economic boom,” in an interview with the Fox Business Network, indicating that he would not bring the bill for a vote. (VOA)