WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — Congressional Democrats renewed their push Tuesday to raise the U.S. minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour by 2025.
They believe its chances of passing are better than ever now that President Joe Biden included a similar ask in his COVID-19 relief package.
However, the increase and the timing of it could still be a tough sell to Republicans.
“No person working full time in America should be living in poverty,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA.
That’s why Scott said he wants to give more than 30 million workers a raise.
“The support for raising the wage has increased during the pandemic,” he said.
President Biden is calling on Congress to pass an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour to help struggling families, but Scott and other congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation Tuesday to gradually raise it to that amount by 2025.
“Too many of us, especially Black and Brown workers on the frontlines of this pandemic, have been left behind,” said Fran Marion, a Fight for $15 leader.
Marion, a single mother of two and employee at a Missouri McDonald’s, calls a $15 wage the bare minimum but also life-changing for her family.
“A roof over our heads, food on our table, healthcare and money to send them to college,” Marion said.
Eight states plus Washington, D.C. have passed a $15 minimum wage. The House approved the legislation last year, but the Republican-controlled Senate blocked it.
“This is not a radical idea,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT. “This is what the American people want.”
Sanders, the incoming Senate Budget Committee chair, plans to pass the legislation in the now Democrat-controlled Senate through budget reconciliation, a simple majority vote.
“We cannot simply take no for an answer,” Sanders said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, opposes Sanders’s reconciliation efforts.
“All I can do is present facts,” Cassidy said. “The Congressional Budget Office says it’s going to cost 1.3 million [jobs], best of circumstances, and hope my Democratic colleagues agree with me and not with Bernie.”
Cassidy argues President Biden’s immediate raise to $15 would cut jobs and close businesses.
“It’s a way to turn a recession into a depression,” he said. “I think the wisdom of that kind of, ‘Right now, let’s do it,’ is more political, but it is not in the interest of the person who is trying to hang on to their job.”
However, Cassidy said a gradual wage increase “is something to be looked at. Absolutely.”
The bill would also end pay below the minimum wage for tipped workers, certain teens and people with disabilities.