Politics

Democrats Propose $12 Federal Minimum Wage, Obama Gives Full Support

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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Democrats in Congress want to see the federal minimum wage raised to $12 per hour, $1.90 more than previously sought.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Democratic Rep. Robert Scott of Virginia introduced the "Raise The Wage Act" on Thursday to the Senate and House, respectively. The bill would set the federal minimum wage at $12 per hour by 2020, and future increases would be tied to the median wage.

The previous minimum wage increase bill, that would have raised the amount from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, has been stalled for some time, reports Huffington Post. The new bill is seen as unlikely to garner support from Republicans who have opposed raising the federal minimum wage.

Regardless, Democrats are not giving up.

"This is a key piece of our work to grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down," Murray said at a press conference on Thursday. "The truth is, for most Americans, wages have been stagnant for decades."

Murray was questioned as to why she thinks Republicans would be more likely to support a $12 minimum wage when they would not get behind $10.10 per hour.

"We put out what we believe is right, and we challenge them to come to us," Murray said. "I invite them to support this bill and I challenge them to."

The bill would also eliminate the lower tipped minimum wage that is currently $2.13 per hour. The previous wage increase bill would only have raised the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

“Tipped workers are most exposed to the ups and downs of the economy. The unpredictability of wages makes it even more difficult to make ends meet, on top of trying to scrape by on low wages. So eliminating the tipped wage is long overdue,” Murray told ThinkProgress. “Washington state has led the way in this, and we’ve seen that it works for restaurants, businesses, and workers.”

Murray found inspiration in seeking the higher minimum wage because of action that has occurred in her state of Washington. It recently began phasing in a new minimum wage of $15 per hour in Seattle, Opposing Views previously reported.

“There has been great work done in Washington state and across the country to increase wages even further to help the families and businesses in those communities, and I support those efforts,” Murray said.

At this time, Murray and Scott have the support of two influential Democrats: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi from California.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said the White House is giving “full and enthusiastic support” to the proposed $12 per hour federal minimum wage.

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Sources: Huffington Post, Opposing Views, Think Progress

Photo Source: US Department of Labor, WikiCommons