The Raise the Wage Act fulfills a key pillar of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan
Nearly 32 million Americans would get a raise, a majority of whom are frontline or essential workers
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, incoming Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) joined House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03), incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07) to introduce legislation gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 in five steps over the next four years. Beginning in 2026, the federal minimum wage would be indexed to median wage growth. The legislation also guarantees that all workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by phasing out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities.
Congress has not increased the federal minimum wage in more than a decade – the longest stretch since it was first established in 1938.
“Throughout this pandemic, Democrats and Republicans alike have joined together in rightly calling our frontline workers ‘heroes.’ But despite their tireless work and the risk of COVID exposure, too many of these workers are paid wages so low, they can’t afford to pay for even their most basic needs. And because of systemic inequities and discrimination, workers of color, and in particular, women of color, are much more likely to be paid poverty-level wages,” said Senator Murray. “Democrats are asking for $15 an hour, because no one working 40 hours a week, should be making $15,000 a year. If we’re committed to an economy that works for everyone, we need one fair, livable wage for everyone—and that includes workers with disabilities, tipped workers and youth workers. We won’t accept carve-outs and we won’t accept leaving anyone behind.”
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $7.25 federal minimum wage was economically and morally indefensible. Now, the pandemic is highlighting the gross imbalance between the productivity of our nation’s workers and the wages they are paid. Many of the essential workers who have braved a public health crisis to keep food on the table and care for our loved ones are still not being paid enough to provide for themselves or their families. Today, a full-time worker cannot afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in any country in the U.S.,” said Chairman Scott. “Around the country, Americans across the political spectrum have repeatedly supported raising the minimum wage. In November, more than 60 percent of voters in Florida voted to increase the state minimum wage. The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing income inequality, and building back a better economy where everyone can succeed.”
According to an independent analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, the Raise the Wage Act would increase wages for nearly 32 million Americans, including roughly a third of all Black workers and a quarter of all Latino workers.
“Let’s be clear. The $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage,” said Senator Sanders. “No person in America can make it on $8, $10, or $12 an hour. In the United States of America a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage – at least $15 an hour. And when we do that, not only will we be lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, we will be providing a raise to nearly 32 million workers. We can no longer tolerate millions of workers not being able to afford to feed their families or pay the rent. The time for talk is over. No more excuses. It is time for Congress to act to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.”
"As a longtime organizer for working people who helped draft the resolution that made Seattle the first major city to enact a $15 minimum wage, I know that raising the wage is good for workers, families, businesses and the economy," said Congresswoman Jayapal. "Now that we have a Democratic White House and a Democratic Senate, it is time for the People’s House to once again stand up for workers, fight for families and pass the Raise the Wage Act so we finally have a $15 minimum wage all across America."
“Last Congress, I was proud to help lead the historic effort in the House to give Americans a raise. Floridians then followed suit and voted to increase our state minimum wage and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families,” said Congresswoman Murphy. “This bill is a reasonable step to boost our economy and ensure everyone who works hard in this great country can provide for themselves and their loved ones.”
In addition to Senators Murray and Sanders, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Lujan (D-NM), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Ossoff (D-GA), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).
For fact sheet on Raise the Wage Act, click here.
For the section-by-section of the Raise the Wage Act, click here.
For the bill text of the Raise the Wage Act, click here.