- Top Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 on Tuesday, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
- House Labor Chair Robert Scott said the Act would gradually phase out subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities.
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he will use budget reconciliation to pass the minimum wage increase.
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Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 on Tuesday, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of five years.
The federal minimum wage has not been raised for over a decade, and President Joe Biden proposed to raise it in his $2 trillion stimulus proposal. However, the provision was met with partisan criticism.
To address the issue, House Labor Chair Robert Scott joined incoming Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders, incoming Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, and Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy to introduce legislation that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
“Around the country, Americans across the political spectrum have repeatedly supported raising the minimum wage,” Scott said in a statement. “In November, more than 60 percent of voters in Florida voted to increase the state minimum wage. The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing income inequality, and building back a better economy where everyone can succeed.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Scott said that the Raise the Wage Act would work in three ways:
- Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025;
- Gradually phasing out various subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities;
- Ensuring that the value of the minimum wage will not erode over time by tying it to inflation and future increases in the median wages.
According to an analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, the Act would increase wages for nearly 32 million Americans, including nearly a third of all Black workers and a quarter of all Latino workers, and more than half of the people who would benefit are women.
The Raise the Wage Act would also increase the pay for roughly six in 10 Americans whose total family income is below the poverty line. Insider previously reported that 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty as pandemic benefits have expired, so the Act intends to provide relief to those who have been suffering financially.
Sanders said in the Tuesday press conference that he will use budget reconciliation to push for the minimum wage increase, a method he previously said he would use to pass the provision through Congress. He said for anyone who thinks budget reconciliation is “some kind of new or radical concept,” to remember that Republicans have used it before to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Let us be clear. And I don’t think there’s any debate about this. There isn’t anybody in America… who can survive on $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage,” Sanders said. “You can’t make it on nine bucks. You can’t make it on $12 an hour. But in the richest country in the history of the world, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty. Minimum wage must be a living wage, enabling people to live with dignity.”