Blogger Call with Sen. Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held a conference call with bloggers earlier this afternoon. I asked him where the minimum wage bill will go after this week’s expected approval of a version including business tax breaks.

Yesterday’s NY Times said that the Senate bill either will go to a House-Senate conference, where it can be reconciled with the House bill, clean of tax favors. Or, the House can arbitrarily strip out the tax favors and send a clean bill back to the Senate.

Reid reiterated what his spokesperson said to the NY Times: that he believes he can’t get a clean bill past a conservative filibuster, and would prefer a House-Senate conference.

He also conceded that the House has the power to “blue slip” and block the Senate bill, on the grounds that tax measures can’t originate in the Senate.

If a member of the House pulls a blue slip — and Rep. Charlie Rangel has already threatened to — then the tax provisions get stripped and the clean bill returns to the Senate.

Reid is clearly going to press the House not to do that. But if the House rebuffs him and insists on a clean bill, he still will be able to do what he hasn’t yet:

Put maximum pressure on Senate conservatives to either pass a straight-up pay raise for America’s workers, or face the voters in 2008.


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