House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
A special exemption in the nation’s proposed new minimum wage law could benefit a company headquartered in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, and several Republican members of the U.S. House are objecting.
The minimum wage bill has been promised as one of the top priorities by Democrats, who are in the majority in both the U.S. House and Senate for the first time in years. They acted quickly on it, with an approving vote this week.
But while the proposed change in law adds American territories to the minimum wage requirements for the first time, American Samoa remains exempt. That’s where Del Monte’s brand name StarKist tuna has a huge plant, employing thousands of workers who would have been affected by inclusion in the minimum wage plan.
On a segment of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson noted the StarKist employment involves 75 percent of the island’s work force, with the profits heading to Del Monte’s San Francisco headquarters, in a district represented by Pelosi.
“And now her people are saying that, you know, she has never been influenced by StarKist at all but other people are saying, hey, this is a little bit of hypocrisy because how can this particular group of people benefit by not having to pay the new minimum wage which is almost $2 more an hour,” she said.
The congressional vote, if finalized, would raise the minimum wage in the U.S. – and selected U.S. territories – from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over a period of time.
Pelosi later told reporters she would try to work to see if “all territories” could be included in compliance requirements for the new law.
The Washington Times reported that while Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was calling the wage increase “a matter of fairness,” Republican Steve Forde, a spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee, said it was “ironic” that one of the first bills advanced by Democrats promising across-the-board fairness has an exception.
StarKist, which owns one of the two Samoan packing plants, has been a big opponent of increases in the U.S. minimum wage. The other plant belongs to Chicken of the Sea, also based in California, the report said.
Democrats backed the bill 233-0, and Republicans opposed it 116-82.
On Fox & Friends, Briane Kilmeade noted Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., were “beside themselves.”
McHenry hopped up in the House chamber and asked about the exemption, and more or less was told to sit down, Kilmeade noted.
At HumanEvents.com, Cantor was quoted saying, “I am shocked.”
He noted Pelosi’s campaign 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.”
“There’s something fishy going on here,” said McHenry. His attempt to offer an amendment during subsequent debate on stem-cell research to exempt American Samoa “just as it was for the minimum-wage bill” hit a nerve.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was chairman and clearly was upset. He cut off McHenry immediately.
“So, the chair is saying I may not offer an amendment exempting American Samoa?” McHenry asked.
“The gentleman is making a speech and will sustain,” Frank shouted, according to the HumanEvents.com report.
Steve Doocey told the Fox & Friends audience: “Let’s get this straight. Everybody has got to raise their minimum wage except American Samoa, which, of course, has so many people who are pulling tuna out of the sea, shipping them off via Del Monte whose corporate headquarters in Nancy Pelosi’s home district. I’m sure it’s a coincidence. Don’t you think?”
“It seems there are poor people in need … and there are Democrats who need poor people,” said Jerry Fuhrman on the FromOnHigh blog.
Pelosi and other Democrats campaigned during 2006 on promises of cleaning up ethics scandals in Congress, and a spokesman for the White House earlier told WND that’s a good idea.
“Speaker-elect Pelosi has announced that she will be speaker of what she termed, and this is a quote, ‘The most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.’ My question: Did the President agree with Mrs. Pelosi’s announcement, in view of the re-election of Democrat Congressmen Jefferson, Hastings, McDermott, Murtha, and Mollohan?” Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, asked.
“I think – look, she’s got a noble goal. Let’s hope she succeeds,” said spokesman Tony Snow.
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