Vote on $15 Minimum Wage

March 6, 2019

The House Education and Labor Committee will vote on Wednesday, March 6, on raising the federal minimum wage to $15, advancing a central piece of Democrats’ economic agenda.

On Jan. 16, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, joined House and Senate leadership—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—to introduce the Raise the Wage Act of 2019. House Democrats introduced the legislation (H.R. 582) with 196 co-sponsors, while the Senate companion (S. 150) measure has 31 Democratic co-sponsors.

The Committee will mark up H.R. 582 which would phase in a $15 hourly minimum over five years and index future increases to inflation. The bill would eliminate lower minimum wages permitted now for tipped workers, workers with disabilities and workers younger than 20.

The bill is expected to pass the House but faces a tough road in the Senate, with Republicans unlikely to accept $15 and Democrats unlikely to compromise ahead of a presidential election in which several senators are running for reelection.

According to the lawmakers, the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 would:

  • Gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the next six years to lift millions of workers out of poverty, stimulate local economies, and restore the value of minimum wage;
  • Index future increases in the federal minimum wage to median wage growth to ensure the value of minimum wage does not once again erode over time;
  • Guarantees tipped workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by repealing the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which will ensure consistent, livable pay;
  • Guarantees teen workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by repealing the rarely used subminimum wage for youth workers; and
  • End subminimum wage certificates for individuals with disabilities to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to be competitively employed, taxpaying citizens and participate more fully in their communities.

Currently, there are just three states with a minimum wage below $7.25, while four others have no minimum-wage law. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia and 29 states have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage. However, none currently have a minimum wage of $15/hr. New York has enacted legislation to increase minimum wage until the rate reaches $15 minimum wage and $10 tipped wage.

For nearly ten years, from September 1, 1997 through July 23, 2007, the federal minimum wage was $5.15 per hour. Three times in the following two years, the minimum wage rose, settling in at $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009. The minimum wage has remained $7.25 since then.