House approves $15 minimum wage, Senate prospects are dim

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds up seven-year-old Kassidy Durham of Durham, North Carolina, during a news conference prior to a vote on the Raise the Wage Act July 18, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, to $15 an hour, but the bill has almost no chance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Passage was assured after centrists won concessions for a slower phase-in, over six years instead of five. They also won assurances the pay hike could be halted midway if a study shows job losses or other adverse effects.

A hike in the $7.25 hourly wage has been a top Democratic campaign promise, intended to address income inequality that’s driving the 2020 political debate. Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said raising the wage is the “right thing to do.”

“America’s workers deserve a raise,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference with labor leaders and employees ahead of voting. Lifting a young girl into her arms, Pelosi said, “This is what it’s all about… It’s about family.”

The legislation, for the first time, would pay tipped workers the same as others earning the minimum, boosting their pay to $15 an hour, too. It’s now $2.13.

Republicans in the House balked at the wage hike, which would be the first since Democrats last controlled the majority. It was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

States are already able to raise the wage beyond the federal minimum, and many have done so.

Just a few Republicans joined most all Democrats in passage, on a 231-199 vote.

During the floor debate, Rep. Ronald Wright, R-Texas, called it a “disastrous bill.” Wright said essentially doubling pay would cost jobs and the bill should be renamed the “Raising Unemployment for American Workers Act.”

While opponents have long said higher minimum wages lead to job losses, economists say new studies are casting doubt on those long-held theories.

A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sent mixed messages. It said more than 30 million workers would see bigger paychecks with a higher wage, lifting more than 1 million workers from poverty. It also said between 1 million and 3 million jobs could be lost.

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  • J.B.

    Just write me a bigger check already…i don’t have time to work…besides that it causes me anxiety. which makes me smoke pot, and that makes it impossible for me to find a job..that and my facial tattoos and green hair…that and i am pretty sure being forced to work is racist.
    so let just do away with my slaving away working 20+ hours a week..and just send a check to my mail box..
    i can deal with that..maybe…i will try it for a week or 2 and if it doesn’t work out then you can think of something else.

    • Edward Gray

      It doest matter what the minimum wage is, prices will adjust accordingly. So for instance if $25 became the minimum wage, within 2 years, $25/hr will not be a livable wage. Minimum wage jobs are not intended to live off of. Its for kids in school to have a little spending money. If you are an adult working a minimum wage job, you need to reassess your life goals. Learn a trade, go to college or whatever but you are NEVER going to support yourself on minimum wage no matter how much that is.

  • steve

    Typical Democrat pandering for votes. Give an awful lot of people more money than they’re worth so everybody will pay more for everything. Economic stupidity

  • We the people

    So you raise minimum wage and watch the economy stop, going out to eat? Couldn’t afford to even go to McDonald’s if they do it, I would have to get a third job just to buy milk.oh and your utilities will go way up also, people don’t understand how the system works, they say they will give you more money but it ends up costing 3 times what they give you.

  • Pete

    People of color get so played by the left so bad it’s not even funny. Just look at Nancy holding that girl, what a joke.

  • C

    Steny Hoyer says raising the wage is the “right thing to do” I don’t know about you, but I’m damn sick and tired of Democrats using that justification for anything they sponsor. Anything whatsoever. But, let a Republican use those words and all the Democrats suddenly are deaf. It’s their way or no way every single time, and for the Republicans to try to get them to negotiate on anything is a waste of time. I just wish they’d figure that out.

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