Days after President Donald Trump released a budget that would slash support for working families, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), joined by 28 of their colleagues in the Senate, introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) introduced a companion bill Thursday with 152 cosponsors in the House.
“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,” Sanders said. “Our job in the wealthiest country in the history of the world is to make sure that every worker has at least a modest and decent standard of living.”
“I’ve seen it in Washington state and across the country: our country is strongest when workers and families are strongest, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a critical part of reaching that goal. I’m especially proud that the Raise the Wage Act would mean millions of women—particularly women of color who are disproportionately impacted by pay discrimination—earn more of what they need to support their families. If President Trump truly cared about the workers he promised to put first on the campaign trail he would join us to make sure workers get a fair wage, and that’s exactly what we are going to push this Administration and Republicans to do," Murray said.
"If Republicans and President Trump are truly serious about standing up for workers – they’ll join us in fighting for a $15 minimum wage, which will give a raise to nearly half of all working Americans. Senate Democrats have been working on putting together a bold, sharp edged economic agenda, and this bill will be a part of that. We’re going to continue fighting tooth and nail for this – because a livable wage is about more than just numbers; it’s about respect for our workers and economic justice for those in the middle-class and those striving to get there," Schumer said.
The Raise the Wage Act would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and would be indexed to median wage growth thereafter. This raise would increase the minimum wage higher than its 1968 peak. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.
While labor productivity has more than doubled since the late 1960s, pay for workers generally and for low-wage workers in particular has either stagnated or fallen since the 1970s. At the same time, income for those at the top has skyrocketed. The richest 1 percent have seen their income grow by 15 percent since 2009 and by more than 130 percent since the late 1960s.
The legislation would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce. A $15 minimum wage by 2024 would generate $144 billion in higher wages for workers, benefiting their local economies.
The bill will also gradually eliminate the loophole that allows tipped workers and workers with disabilities to be paid substantially less than the federal minimum wage, bringing it to parity with the regular minimum wage. Moreover, it would also phase out the youth minimum wage, which allows employers to pay workers under 20 years old a lower wage for the first 90 calendar days of work.
Since 2012, when striking fast-food workers launched the “Fight for $15,” states and cities representing approximately 18 percent of the U.S. workforce – including California, New York State and the District of Columbia – have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour.
Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ben Nelson (D-Fl.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are original co-sponsors of the legislation.
Read a summary of the bill here.
Read the text of the legislation here.