Introduced with 181 House cosponsors and 31 Senate cosponsors, the Raise the Wage Act was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). According to the bill, the minimum wage would gradually increase every year until reaching $15/hour by 2024.
“Just a few short years ago, we were told that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was ‘radical.’ But a grassroots movement of millions of workers throughout this country refused to take ‘no’ for an answer,” asserted Sen. Bernie Sanders. “It is not a radical idea to say a job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it. The current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. It must be increased to a living wage of $15 an hour.”
“No person working full-time in America should be living in poverty. The Raise the Wage Act will increase the pay and standard of living for nearly 40 million workers across this country. Raising the minimum wage is not only good for workers, it is good for businesses, and good for the economy. When we put money in the pockets of American workers, they will spend that money in their communities. This bill is a stimulus for Main Street America,” stated Rep. Bobby Scott, Committee on Education and Labor.
According to the legislation, which was co-signed by Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, Tammy Baldwin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and many others, the federal minimum wage would increase to $9.85 by next year, $12.45 by 2022, and $15/hour by 2024. The bill also plans to ensure all workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by phasing out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers and workers with disabilities.
“A $15 federal minimum wage affirms the bedrock idea of fairness in our country: that hard work deserves a decent wage. We will open up opportunities for working families and drive economic growth that lifts up all communities – because our economy works best when it works for everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged few. I commend Chairman Bobby Scott and all our House Democrats for their leadership for America’s working men and women, who are the backbone of our country,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“For a long time, Democrats have been trying to raise the minimum wage to keep pace with the times. The harsh truth of the matter is that the minimum wage is now a poverty wage in too many parts of America,” noted Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “And no American with a full-time job should be living in poverty. Despite campaigning as a champion for working Americans, President Trump has abandoned working Americans while in office. He’s tried to strip away workers’ health care, given a massive tax cut to corporations and the wealthy, and used workers as bargaining chips in shutting the government down. If President Trump isn’t going to stick up for American workers on key issues such as raising the minimum wage, Democrats will.”
“There are millions of women and men across the country who work a full-time job, or work multiple jobs, and are still unable to pay their bills and make ends meet. Women make up almost two-thirds of minimum wage earners and it’s even worse for women of color,” admitted Sen. Patty Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “So I’m proud to introduce the Raise the Wage Act today as one of the many steps we can take to ensure workers, especially the millions of women supporting their families, have the economic security to build better lives.”
“More than a decade after Congress last voted to raise the minimum wage, no family in the United States can live on $7.25 an hour. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do and long past due,” declared Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. “While some cities and states have led on this issue, we must raise the wage everywhere – from Madison, Wisconsin, to Mobile, Alabama – to ensure that every American worker can succeed. Every Member of Congress should recognize the urgent need to raise the wage, and if they support a salary of only $15,080 per year, they should be forced to live on it.”