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Majority Of Democrats Back $15 Minimum Wage

A majority of the Democratic caucuses in both the House and Senate have thrown their support behind a bill calling for a $15 minimum wage.

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the bill at a May 25 press conference, where he was joined by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Huffington Post reported.

A total of 30 Democratic senators have backed the measure and a similar bill to be tabled in the House is being co-sponsored by 153 Democrats.

If "we win the election, in the first 100 hours we will pass a $15 minimum wage," Pelosi said, according to Politico.

The minimum wage was last increased in 2007.

"The time is long overdue for us to raise the minimum wage, which is now, at the federal level, $7.25 an hour, which I think under any definition is a starvation wage," Sanders added, according to the Post.

Several states and cities across the country, including New York, Seattle and San Francisco, have initiated the process of raising their minimum wage rates to $15 an hour.

"We have got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage," added Sanders. "And what we are here to say is that living wage is $15 an hour."

Sanders made the minimum wage issue a major part of his failed campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016. When he introduced a similar bill in 2015, only five Democratic senators backed him.

Sanders gained more support by lengthening the period over which a $15 minimum wage would be instituted. The current bill calls for all states to adopt the $15 minimum wage by 2024.

Opponents of the measure also spoke out.

"This is a significant moment since it confirms that the Democrat Party is now in the hands of extreme liberals that have more in common with European socialism than the free enterprise principles that have guided America for generations," Jeremy Adler of the conservative group America Rising said, according to Politico.

The Post predicted that it was unlikely the bill would ever pass, given that the Republicans control the White House and Congress. But Democrats hope the measure will encourage voters to back them in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Schumer sought to reach out to Republicans, arguing that President Trump should "stick up for working people by supporting our bill."

The issue of a $15 minimum wage has triggered many protests by unions and activist groups over recent years.

Fight for 15, a coalition led by trade unions, organized a nationwide protest May 24, which included a march outside a shareholders' meeting of McDonald's in Chicago.

"I saw my mother, who worked 30 years for Hardee's, struggle on food stamps to raise her family and now I'm doing the same thing," protester Terrance Wise told Reuters.

Sources: Politico, Huffington Post, Reuters / Photo credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

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