Top Democrats introduce bill raising minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025
Legislation introduced in Congress this week would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 in five steps over the next four years.
Under the terms of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, the federal minimum wage would rise to $15 an hour by 2025, and beginning in 2026, it would be indexed to median wage growth,.
The new wage level would benefit nearly 32 million Americans, including roughly a third of all Black workers and a quarter of all Latino workers, according to an independent analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.
“Let’s be clear. The $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. No person in America can make it on $8, $10, or $12 an hour. In the United States of America a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage—at least $15 an hour. And when we do that, not only will we be lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, we will be providing a raise to over 33 million workers,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) in announcing the legislation today.
“We can no longer tolerate millions of workers not being able to afford to feed their families or pay the rent. The time for talk is over. No more excuses. It is time for Congress to act to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour,” Sanders said.
“Throughout this pandemic, Democrats and Republicans alike have joined together in rightly calling our frontline workers ‘heroes.’ But despite their tireless work and the risk of COVID exposure, too many of these workers are paid wages so low, they can’t afford to pay for even their most basic needs. And because of systemic inequities and discrimination, workers of color, and in particular, women of color, are much more likely to be paid poverty-level wages,” said Murray, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “Democrats are asking for $15 an hour, because no one working 40 hours a week, should be making $15,000 a year. If we’re committed to an economy that works for everyone, we need one fair, livable wage for everyone—and that includes workers with disabilities, tipped workers and youth workers. We won’t accept carve-outs and we won’t accept leaving anyone behind.”
“Americans working 40 hours a week should be able to put food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads, but with the minimum wage stuck at $7.25, far too many are working hard and still in poverty,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is one step Congress should take right now, particularly with the COVID-19 crisis stretching families’ resources further than ever. I am happy to move forward with this group to make it happen and give the American people a raise.”
“This pandemic has pushed millions more Americans into poverty and we need to ensure that every working American is able to support themselves and their families,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “Passing the Raise the Wage Act is more critical now than ever. Finally delivering a $15 minimum wage will benefit workers by lifting their families out of poverty and it will strengthen our economic recovery. We must keep fighting until all hardworking Americans can access basic economic security and a fair shot in our economy.”
“My colleagues and I have introduced this legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour because Georgia’s working families are struggling to pay the bills, and they deserve a livable wage for an honest day’s work,” Sen. Ossoff said.
“The coronavirus pandemic and economic crises have pulled back the veil on the unconscionable economic disparities that working women, low-income families and other vulnerable communities have faced for decades,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “By re-introducing the Chair Bobby Scott’s Raise the Wage Act, which passed on a bipartisan basis in the previous Congress, the Democratic Congress is taking another strong and long-needed step to honor the dignity, dedication and contributions of millions of hard-working Americans. This legislation is a key part of Democrats’ commitment to not only recover from these crises, but to Build Back Better – and to do so in a way that advances justice, prosperity and equality for all Americans.”
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $7.25 federal minimum wage was economically and morally indefensible. Now, the pandemic is highlighting the gross imbalance between the value of our workers and the wages they are paid. Many of the essential workers who have braved a public health crisis to keep our economy moving are still not being paid enough to provide for themselves or their families. The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing inequality, and ensuring that all Americans can share in the economic recovery.,” Scott said.
“As a longtime organizer for working people who helped draft the resolution that made Seattle the first major city to enact a $15 minimum wage, I know that raising the wage is good for workers, families, businesses and the economy,” Jayapal said. “Now that we have a Democratic White House and a Democratic Senate, it is time for the People’s House to once again stand up for workers, fight for families and pass the Raise the Wage Act so we finally have a $15 minimum wage all across America.”
“Last Congress, I was proud to help lead the historic effort in the House to give Americans a raise. Floridians then followed suit and voted to increase our state minimum wage and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families,” Murphy said. “This bill is a reasonable step to boost our economy and ensure everyone who works hard in this great country can provide for themselves and their loved ones.”
“Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 will be a boost to the economy, and a boost to our sales. Raising wages is good business. Paying people fairly leads to greater staff retention, which reduces the cost of hiring and training new people to replace employees who leave. And fair pay leads to better quality, better ideas and better customer service,” said Mike Draper, owner of Raygun LLC, an Iowa-based clothing and home goods company and member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Sanders’ Senate companion is being cosponsored by 37 members: Chair Murray (D-Wash.), Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sens. Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Booker, (D-N.J.) Brown (D-Ohio), Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cardin (D-Md.), Casey (D-Pa.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kaine (D-Va.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Lujan (D-N.M.), Markey (D-Mass.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Murphy, (D-Conn.) Ossoff (D-Ga.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Peters (D-Mich.), Reed (D-R.I.), Rosen (D-Nev.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Smith (D-Minn.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Warner (D-Va.), Warnock (D-Ga.). Warren (D-Mass.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Wyden (D-Ore.).
To read the bill text of the Raise the Wage Act, click here.