Murray, Cantwell Counter Trump with $15 Wage Proposal
Source: The Seattle Pi
Twenty-three Democratic senators, including Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on Wednesday called for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage to be phased in by 2024, proposing to help low-income workers as President Trump unveiled tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
It was an exercise in counter-programming, as Murray and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., rallied with workers and unveiled legislation that stands not a snowball's chance in hell of passing while Trump is in the White House.
The federal minimum wage has stood at just $7.25 an hour since 2009. Numerous states, including Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska -- and, of course, Seattle with a phased-in $15 wage -- have acted on their own.
Other states, such as neighboring, Republican-ruled Idaho, have refused to budge from $7.25 an hour.
"It's the right thing to do for working parents, for the nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers who are women, and as I've heard from business owners in our state, it's the right thing to do for our local economies," Murray said.
At the current federal minimum, said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a single mother has to work two jobs to earn just $15,000 a year.
"The minimum wage must be a living wage and the current rate of $7.25 makes it impossible to support a family," said Harris.
The sponsors are from West Coast and East Coast states representing the leading edge in American technology, exports and growth. All six senators from California, Oregon and Washington are sponsors, plus lawmakers from New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland.
"Washington state has been a leader in putting workers first -- including raising the minimum wage. Washington has the nation's highest minimum wage at $11 and is one of the fastest growing economies in the country," said Cantwell. "Our state is proof we can grow our economy and provide Americans a living wage."
Minimum wage hikes used to be bipartisan, until blocked post-2010 by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
President Eisenhower hammered out a wage hike in the 1950s with Democratic Senate leader Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton worked with a GOP-controlled House on a 1996 minimum wage increase.
After Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006, they worked with Republican President George W. Bush on the last wage hike.
No more. Candidate Trump debunked the minimum wage last year, at one point seeming to suggest that the U.S. have no minimum wage at all.
House Republican leaders have labeled a higher federal minimum wage as a potential job killer, despite ample evidence to the contrary from states such as California, Oregon and Washington.
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