McCain voted 19 times against a minimum-wage increase.
Joe Biden on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 in a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver
The Democrats counted correctly
We combed through McCain's minimum wage votes and found that not all of 19 in opposition to increases were pure votes on the minimum wage, and some were procedural, as is the Senate's way. But McCain has voted repeatedly, 19 times, against Democratic attempts to raise the minimum wage.
Most recently, McCain voted against a spending bill in March 2007 that included the wage hike. Earlier that year, he voted against stopping debate on a stand-alone wage-hike bill, which in Senate parlance is equivalent to voting no.
Let's put an important caveat on this issue, however. McCain has often voted for minimum-wage increases. In 2007, he voted for passage of a bill that would have raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25, after it was packaged with business tax breaks designed to soften the blow of the wage increase.
And a few months later, he voted for the final version of the bill that made that wage hike into law. It was packaged in a large spending bill with war funding that did not include a goal for withdrawing troops from Iraq, unlike the earlier bill that he voted against. To show how confusing Senate votes can get, Barack Obama voted against the final spending bill and wage hike because of the Iraq policy. Biden was one of 37 Democrats to vote for the bill.
McCain has also voted for Republican-sponsored minimum-wage proposals that would have meant smaller increases than what the Democrats wanted. For instance, on June 21, 2006, he voted against an amendment from Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy that would eventually have raised the minimum wage to $7.25. But on the same day, McCain voted for an amendment from Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi that would have raised the wage to $6.25. That sort of conflicting, confusing pile of votes is just the nature of the Senate.
McCain has said he opposes Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage and index it for inflation, telling a business group in June that it and other Obama proposals are "a sure way to add to your costs and to slow the creation of new jobs."
Let's look at the big picture. Generally, on minimum-wage issues, McCain has been in the middle of the Senate Republicans. He's not one of the few GOP members who regularly vote for Democratic proposals. But he also wasn't one of the three conservatives who voted against the 2007 wage hike, even after the tax breaks were added.
Biden, however, never made any claim about McCain's votes for minimum-wage bills or his overall record. All he said was that McCain cast 19 votes against raising the minimum wage, and that's True.